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The situation in Ivory Coast is very precarious, EU HR Catherine Ashton told EP

Catherine Ashton
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission
Statement on Ivory Coast
European Parliament
Strasbourg, 15 December 2010


Honourable members of Parliament

The situation in Ivory Coast is very precarious as lives are at risk, lives of Ivorian citizens, but also those of many Europeans living and working in the country.

Important issues are at stake: not only the role which the Ivory Coast plays in Africa but also the vast work done by the international community over the last 10 years to support crisis resolution and enhance stability.

Presidential elections had been due for several years. In the end it is a credit to Ivoirian people, the work of the United Nations with the support of the international community and in particular, I must say, the European Union, and the Facilitator, President Blaise Compaor� of Burkina Faso, that these elections could finally take place.

All candidates had agreed beforehand with the ground rules of the election. These included a special role for the UN Secretary General's Special Representative, Mr Choi, to certify election results.

A European Electoral Observation Mission was sent to the country, headed by your colleague, Mr Christian Preda MEP. It concluded that the elections were held in democratic conditions. I want to thank and congratulate Mr Preda and his team for their courage and for their excellent work, carried out in difficult conditions.

The results were proclaimed by the Independent Electoral Commission and certified by the Special Representative of the UN secretary general, Mr Choi. President Barroso and I were amongst the first to congratulate President Alassane Dramane Ouattara on his victory.

The international community has been unanimous in recognising Alassane Ouattara. ECOWAS and the African Union have been crystal clear in their message: Mr. Ouattara is the legitimate President of C�te d'Ivoire.

The ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly on December 3rd has been equally unambiguous in its declaration.

We are calling on all political forces in Ivory Coast to respect the electoral outcome, to show responsibility and to refrain from any act of violence. All efforts should now be focused on the achievement of a peaceful transfer of power.

UN resolutions provide for targeted measures against those who obstruct the peaceful transition and the elections. African bodies have already resorted to sanctions on Ivory Coast. The EU is ready to take its responsibilities regarding targeted measures, and we have clearly said so this week in the Council with EU Foreign Ministers, but we are also prepared to take measures to support the legally elected authorities.

The developments in Ivory Coast are followed closely by many actors and by public opinion, in particular in Africa and among its neighbours, many of whom are also in a post-conflict situation and undergoing difficult democratic transition. The outcome of the present constitutional crisis in Ivory Coast will send a strong signal to all forces on the African continent, both those in favour of democracy and those who are against.

The response of the EU to this crisis is vital. As a major player in the International Community our role will be enhanced and our credibility as a global champion of democracy improved if our action can contribute to a peaceful handover of power to President Alassane Ouattara in accordance with the clearly expressed will of the Ivorian people in free and fair elections.

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