Brussels, 16 October 2012/ ACP: The President of the Republic of Gabon has invited political peers from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) to focus seriously on the future course of the ACP Group as an international alliance during a major leaders’ conference this December.

“Let me urge the necessary strengthening of the solidarity of the ACP Group, in order to better contend with the multifaceted challenges that we all currently face,” H.E Ali Bongo Ondimba told the ACP Committee of Ambassadors during a special meeting in Brussels today.

“I am convinced that the 7th Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government which will take place very soon in Equatorial Guinea will give us the chance to reaffirm this solidarity. I have no doubt that this meeting will, for us, be an opportunity to express our faith more strongly in the capacity of our Group to make the best of its partnership with the European Union, in defining more timely and innovative orientations for the Group.”

The President is one of three Heads of State from Africa, along with the leaders of benin and Senegal, visiting the ACP Secretariat this week. Various leaders are in Brussels for the European Development Days events.

During the meeting, it was noted that Gabon hosted the first ever ACP leaders’ summit in 1997. Since then, subsequent gatherings were held in the Dominican Republic (1999), Fiji (2002), Mozambique (2004), Sudan (2006) and Ghana (2008). This year’s summit is scheduled for 13-14 December in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea and will be the first in four years.

The theme, “The Future of the ACP Group: Challenges and Opportunities” will include discussions on the future of ACP-EU relations, possibilities of diversified ACP partnerships with emerging economies, intra-ACP trade, energy and sustainable economic development, and peace and security issues.

The Chair of the ACP Committee of Ambassador, H.E Daniel Evina Abe’e of Cameroun stressed that summit as an opportunity for the ACP Group to cement its mark as the largest trans-regional intergovernmental association of developing countries. Membership is set to rise to 80 states when South Sudan is expected to complete legal procedures next month.

“The ACP Group can serve as a platform for developing countries to reposition themselves in terms of their relations with the European Union, and make their voices head on the international scene while building strategic alliances with emerging countries,” said Ambassador Abe’e.

The ACP Secretary General and former President of ECOWAS, H.E Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas will make an official announcement to the press on October 24th at the Brussels-EU Press Club with further details of the agenda.

(Photos from top: President Ali Bongo addresses the ACP Commitee of Ambassadors in Brussels; Greeting ACP diplomats – pictured here with the Ambassador of Ethiopia, fiji and the Gambia)

– ACP Press