Brussels, 7 June 2017
I thank the leaders of the European Union for the invitation to this important event.
I would like to fully associate with the themes selected as priorities for our partnership, namely private sector development, gender equality, and youth empowerment.
At root these goals are tied together by one simple and powerful idea, and that is unleashing all the potential in society in order to build a more equitable and prosperous future for all of us.
The energy and dynamism of young people drives innovation. Which is why in Rwanda we invest heavily in technology, in particular ICTs and connectivity.
A vibrant private sector creates opportunity and well-being that government alone cannot deliver. Which is why we continue to work to make Rwanda one of the easiest places in the world to do business.
And it is impossible to imagine a pathway to prosperity where the rights and talents of women are not given their full place.
This is the reason Rwanda not only passed laws mandating gender equality in land and inheritance rights and political representation, to mention a few, but also continually works to change popular mindsets.
The European Union has been a very good partner in these efforts and the support, I can say, has been put to good use in Rwanda, and is greatly appreciated. We commend Europe’s recognition that economic and social development is a joint enterprise that benefits us all.
Allow me to close with a word about values.
Sustainable development rests on a foundation of good politics and respect for rights. While peoples may draw different lessons from their respective histories about the most suitable form of governance for their situation, there will always be ample room for discussion and exchange of views among friends.
In that context the topic of migration commands our attention, and rightly so.
Our starting point should be that the dignity and safety of migrants, both in their country of origin and destination, is paramount.
Yet one can safely say, if very uncomfortably, that the migration crisis is a consequence of policies that have not worked well for a long time, if at all.
Compromising stability by seeking to impose one’s values on others will always have adverse outcomes for everyone involved.
This is what needs to be addressed urgently.
If we have an honest and objective discussion, we find that there is actually no basis for Africa and Europe to see in each other any threat.
There is a better conversation to be had.
For both Europeans and Africans today, a decision to leave one’s country usually, partly, starts with a sense that one’s potential cannot be fulfilled at home.
We can do better. There are responsibilities and opportunities for all of us, working together.
We must persist in our joint efforts to strengthen the promise and potential of the private sector, women, and youth in creating stable and prosperous nations.
I look forward to the productive discussions and to working more closely and meaningfully together in the years ahead.
I thank you for your kind attention.