Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Integration and Togolese Abroad - Togo
Chief Negotiator of ACP Group for Post-Cotonou 2020 agreement - Professor of Political Philosophy

Prof. Robert Dussey

Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Integration and Togolese Abroad - Togo
Chief Negotiator of ACP Group for Post-Cotonou 2020 agreement - Professor of Political Philosophy


Interview with Prof. Robert DUSSEY

Question 1: Minister, hello. The end of the year is generally an opportunity to look back on progress and define prospects for the coming year. In recent years, we have seen that Togolese diplomacy is once again shining. Tell us, Professor DUSSEY, what is the secret of this success and what were your main projects in 2023?

First, allow me to thank you, when I say you, I am thinking of the Togolese press as a whole, for your work in relaying our actions to national opinion. You are an indispensable aid to Togolese diplomacy.

Let’s come back to your question. In truth, Togo is fortunate to have at its head a man whose clarity of vision that he defined for foreign policy allows our country to achieve today this international influence that you speak of. This vision of His Excellency Mr. Faure Essozimna GNASSINGBE is based on a clever balance between audacity, wisdom, responsibility and prudence.

Boldness is necessary not only to explore new horizons, but also to extricate yourself from the heaviness and constraints in which others want to keep you. Responsibility requires us to get involved in resolving crises in our immediate geographic space. Wisdom and prudence require listening to people and calling for restraint and, above all, not being seduced by the mirages of easy solutions which can cause serious harm to living together.

Thus, in 2023, Togo strengthened its commitment to peace and security in Africa and the world and worked for the advent of an emancipated Africa capable of resolving its own problems and which participates in global governance. Strengthening its cooperation with partner countries and institutions was also at the heart of our concerns during the ending year.

H.E.M. Faure Essozimna GNASSINGBE with the Presidents of Mali and Ivory Coast

Question 2: Exactly, Mr. Minister, what have been Togo’s actions in favor of strengthening peace and security in Africa and in the world?

Mediation and the search for peace are constants in Togo’s diplomatic action. In this register, the year 2023 began with good news, that of the release of Ivorian soldiers who were for many months the subject of a diplomatic crisis between Ivory Coast and Mali. There is no need to return to the major role that Togo played in the happy outcome of this crisis. After the release of these soldiers on January 7, 2023, the Ivorian delegation made a stopover in LomĂ© to express its gratitude to the President of the Republic, His Excellency Mr. Faure Essozimna GNASSINGBE, whose mediation actions led to this result.

Togo was also involved in overcoming the crisis in Burkina Faso where I was received in audience on January 25, 2023 by His Excellency Captain Ibrahim TRAORE to whom I transmitted a message from the Togolese Head of State. You will remember that Togo still welcomes Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri DAMIBA on its soil, after the end of his regime, in order to contribute to preserving peace and stability in this neighboring country. Faced with the same challenge of terrorism on their common borders, Togo and Burkina Faso must maintain constant dialogue and close cooperation.

Furthermore, the change of regime on July 26, 2023 plunged Niger into a period of uncertainty and tension with the international community. Here again, Togo has opted for the path of wisdom by favoring dialogue and consultation as a way out of the crisis. After several trips that I made to Niger, the power in place in Niamey sent to Lomé, on November 6, 2023, a delegation led by Lieutenant General Salifou MODY, to ask His Excellency Mr. Faure Essozimna GNASSINGBE, President of the Republic, to be the facilitator in their dialogue efforts with the international community. And since December 10, Togo has been designated with Sierra Leone during the 64th ordinary session of the conference of heads of state and government of ECOWAS as mediator. The transitional authorities have also designated our country as guarantor of the withdrawal of French forces from Niger, alongside the United States of America. It was agreed, still during this visit, the establishment of a Transition Support Group (GST) in Niger, under the aegis of the African Political Alliance (APA) of which Togo is responsible. presidency.

Faithful to its commitment to the search for peace in Africa, Lomé welcomed a delegation of political and military figures from Darfur on July 23 and 24 as part of a consultative dialogue and consultation. Following up on this action and carrying a message from His Excellency Mr. Faure Essozimna GNASSINGBE to his Sudanese counterpart, His Excellency General Abdel Fattah AL-BURHAN, I paid a visit to Port Sudan on October 28, 2023. We maintain our involvement in this crisis, in order to support our Sudanese brothers and sisters in reconnecting with peace and stability.

Prof. Robert DUSSEY elevated to the National Order of Mali by President Assimi GOITA

Question 3: Togo’s commitment to peace is to be welcomed. But, Professor DUSSEY, should we not fear being ostracized by other countries as condoning coups?

Let me say this as clearly as possible. Togo strongly condemns all unconstitutional forms of seizure of power. That’s the principle. But, what do we do if unfortunately coups occur, especially in a context of institutional and security fragility? Should we remain impassive at the risk of witnessing a general conflagration of the entire region? The duty of responsibility requires us to support these countries experiencing these upheavals, which are in fact stutters of history and moments of rebuilding the social pact, to reconnect with constitutional regularity. We have nothing to be ashamed of supporting our brothers in difficulty and accompanying them in their efforts to get through it.

Togo is not as alone in this commitment as you think. The great mobilization and enthusiasm observed as well as the testimonies received during the first edition of “LomĂ© Peace and Security Forum” which held its first edition from October 20 to 22 around the theme: “How to strengthen political transitions towards a democratic governance in Africa? », are an illustration of this. This forum, whose vocation is to be a permanent platform serving dialogue, mediation, facilitation, negotiation, peace and security in Africa, brought together actors and partners around the main objectives of strengthening democratic governance, consolidating the resilience of the State in an environment characterized by the emergence of new security challenges and the resurgence of unconstitutional changes of government where it is essential to promote African expertise in the search for solutions to African problems.

Question 4: Is it for the same purpose that you launched the African Political Alliance (APA)?

Not really, although the APA is also intended to deal with questions of peace and security. It responds to the geopolitical and diplomatic need for Africa to qualitatively and significantly review its relationship with the rest of the world for its better representation within multilateral institutions of collective action and in global governance. It is mainly a question of uniting African nations enamored of the ideals of Pan-Africanism and determined to work for an Africa that is uninhibited, politically strong, non-aligned, independent and acting sovereignly on the international scene. Created at the initiative of Togo as a consultation framework, the APA held its first ministerial meeting on May 3, 2023 in Lomé.

The ministers participating in this first meeting discussed the challenges and perspectives relating to strategic positioning, sovereignty and the expression of common positions of Africa on the international scene, examined the current issues and challenges of Pan-Africanism and of African renaissance and those of strengthening cooperation and endogenous capacities to respond to terrorism.

H.E. Mrs. Victoire TOMEGAH-DOGBE, Prime Minister of the Togolese Republic at the launch of the 9th Pan-African Congress

Question 5: We feel that Togo’s diplomatic action is now very oriented towards Pan-Africanism

Indeed ! There is nothing wrong with wanting the best for your continent. We dream of an Africa that asserts itself as a center of power and a major player in international relations. If this is Pan-Africanism, then we are Pan-Africanists. It is driven by this commitment that we launched in LomĂ©, on May 22, 2023, the preparations for the 9th Pan-African Congress which will be held in LomĂ© from October 29 to November 2, 2024 on the theme: “Renewal of Pan-Africanism and the role of Africa in the reform of multilateral institutions: mobilizing resources and reinventing itself to act”. This will be an opportunity for Africans living on the continent and outside it, the diaspora and Afro-descendants in particular, to question the question of their human, political, cultural, social and societal future, in a world of increasingly unstable, lacking collective responsibility and concerted governance. We must take very seriously the reflection on how to invent a form of human association, a political organization and new visions in order to define what we want for ourselves. I swear to you: the 9th Pan-African Congress will not be another congress but a meeting for a new beginning. All physical, moral and intellectual strengths are invited to answer the call of duty and join us to succeed in this challenge.

The process is progressing as evidenced by my trip to South Africa where I took part, on December 4 and 5, in the first regional preparatory conference under the theme: “Pan-Africanism, science, knowledge and technology”.

Family photo during the First Ministerial Conference of the African Political Alliance (A.P.A)

Question 6: Let’s change gear now to talk about bilateral cooperation. What progress has been made by Togo in 2023?

We make it a point of honor to preserve our ties with our bilateral partners. During the year, I made working visits to several countries including Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Ivory Coast, etc., carrying a message from the Head of State, or to discuss issues of common interest including good neighborly relations, the fight against terrorism and the preservation of peace.

As part of strengthening South-South cooperation, I also went to Rwanda on January 25 and 26, 2023 where I was received in audience by His Excellency Mr. Paul KAGAME, President of the Republic of Rwanda to whom I delivered a message from his counterpart in Togo.

I am particularly pleased with the strengthening of our cooperation ties with a certain number of partner countries, among others, France, Germany, Serbia, South Korea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, etc.

Indeed, at the invitation of Mr. Ivica DACIC, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, I paid a working visit to Belgrade, from January 16 to 18, 2023. She was the opportunity for our two countries to commit to intensifying contacts both at the governmental level and between their private sectors with a view to quickly realizing their desire to cooperate in the areas of investment, air and maritime transport, industries , agriculture, commerce, education and training.

Germany also presents itself as a reliable partner of our country in several respects, in particular through its support in the implementation of the 2020-2025 government roadmap. This is how I had the honor of participating in Germany, from February 17 to 19, 2023, in the 59th Munich Security Conference (MSC), at the invitation of its President, Ambassador Christoph HEUSGEN. The 2023 edition of MSC was an opportunity for eminent participants to conduct high-level debates and propose approaches to solutions to the major concerns that threaten peace in the world. During this conference, I had to moderate a high-level panel on the situation in the Sahel, particularly terrorism and violent extremism.

On the sidelines of the conference, I had several meetings with my counterparts from the Federal Republic of Germany, Latvia, Slovenia and the Netherlands. We talked about security in the Sahel and Africa and the strengthening of areas of cooperation between each of these countries and Togo, emphasizing investment in sectors with high employment potential.

Prof Robert DUSSEY received by H.E. Paul KAGAME, President of Rwanda

On March 9, 2023 at the Quai d’Orsay, I had a fruitful tĂȘte-Ă -tĂȘte with Madame Catherine COLONNA, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs of the French Republic during which we reviewed the projects of bilateral cooperation implemented or ongoing. It should be noted that cooperation between Togo and France has enabled concrete achievements in several areas in recent years, including education, professional training, urban development, connectivity, culture, health, agriculture, security and defense. We agreed to work to strengthen our cooperation in terms of investments, in particular by encouraging the installation of French companies within the AdĂ©ticopĂ© industrial platform (PIA). The agri-food, textile, pharmaceutical and automobile assembly sectors have been selected as priorities.

Furthermore, on the occasion of its centenary, the Academy of Overseas Sciences did me the honor of inviting me to give a speech at the Sorbonne in Paris, on May 26, 2023, during its conference on the theme “A hundred years of passion and beyond for overseas”.

Likewise, invited by my colleague Mr. Jin PARK, I stayed in Seoul from March 22 to 25, 2023. The aim of this working visit is to revitalize, update and deepen relations of friendship and cooperation between Togo and the Republic of Korea. On this occasion, we agreed to further deepen and adapt our cooperation to the current context as well as to the priorities and sectoral strategies implemented in each of the two States, in particular through technical discussions with a view to signing a number of agreements aimed at facilitating investments and business partnerships between the Togolese and Korean private sectors.

Conversely, Togo had the honor of welcoming a significant number of visits by Ministers of Foreign Affairs from friendly countries. Allow me to cite just a few, so as not to make our discussion tedious. At my invitation, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Francophonie and Central Africans Abroad, Madame Sylvie BAIPO TEMON, made a working visit to Lomé on April 29, 2023.

Lomé also received a visit from Madame Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, French Secretary of State in charge of development, La Francophonie and international partnerships. During her stay, she met Prime Minister Victoire TOMEGAH-DOGBE and several ministers. At the center of the discussions, several areas of cooperation between Lomé and Paris, notably water, health, social issues, the fight against terrorism, and the need to further energize the partnership.

With Qatar, the strengthening of our ties materialized through the opening this year of a Togolese Embassy in Doha.

Prof Robert DUSSEY received by his French counterpart, Ms Catherine COLONNA

Question 7: What about Togo’s presence in multilateralism?

As I said above, Togo is fighting, with other countries, for fair and equitable governance of the multilateral system. This is the message that I brought, on behalf of the President of the Republic, to the podium of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, emphasizing the need for Africa to remain itself and master of his destiny. We are also very active in our regional and sub-regional organizations in which we participate in the deliberative bodies (African Union, ECOWAS, UEMOA, Council of the Entente, etc.), ensuring that the voice of Togo is heard.

Furthermore, as part of the diversification of its partnerships, you will remember that Togo joined the Commonwealth last year. In this dynamic, I attended the festivities marking “Commonwealth Day 2023” from March 13 to 15, 2023 in London. This is Togo’s first participation in this event. Among other things, the work of this 22nd session focused on financing climate resilience and environmental sustainability as well as intra-community trade and digital connectivity. In my speech, I mentioned the security situation prevailing in the Sahel and the expansionist desires of terrorist groups in the West African sub-region, highlighting the various measures taken by the Togolese government to fight against this scourge.

Always in the dynamic of broadening our horizons, we were interested in the BRICS, which is the grouping of States which today captures attention in that it brings together the main emerging countries and brings together the largest portion of population of the world. I thus represented Togo at the BRICS summit which was held in South Africa in August 2023. I also took part in the meeting of foreign ministers of the Group of 77+ China which was held in September 2023 in Havana, Cuba. Like the BRICS, the G77+ China is still of interest because it constitutes an alternative voice.

One of the subjects of pride of Togolese diplomacy in this year 2023 is the signing in Apia on November 15, in the Republic of Samoa, of the Post-Cotonou Agreement between the Organization of African and Caribbean States and of the Pacific (OEAC) and the European Union. I had the privilege of having been the chief negotiator of the OACPS during the five years that this difficult process lasted, some clearly no longer having faith in this type of partnership. In Africa, the demand for a paradigm shift in relations with Europe is very strong today. But we believe that this is a new agreement to be implemented in a new environment and in a new state of mind. It must be in line in its operationality with the expectations of independence, respect, dignity, justice and equity of the people of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. If the partnership does not integrate these legitimate expectations of our people, it will not be able to keep its promises. The Samoa Agreement must be a new beginning and not the transition to the end of the OACPS-EU partnership, this was the meaning of my message in Apia.

Signature of the Samoa Agreement between OACPS and EU

Question 8: Mr. Minister, we know your commitment to the issue of African diasporas and Afro-descendants. We cannot end this interview without mentioning it. Where are we concretely?

African diasporas and Afro-descendants have a strategic role in the emancipation of the continent. The African Union understands this very well and this is why it is putting in place the mechanisms and projects needed to not only mobilize and involve the diasporas in the achievement of Agenda 2063, but also in providing for their involvement in its institutional decision-making system. For more than a decade, our country has been in pole position on this issue. He chairs the Committee in charge of the Decade of African Roots and Diasporas which held its 5th ordinary meeting on April 13, 2023. As part of the activities of this decade, a forum on reducing the costs of transferring funds from the diaspora, co-chaired by Morocco and Togo. This high-level meeting, the objective of which is to strengthen the existing dialogue frameworks at the continental level with regard to the actions to be taken with a view to reducing the costs of remittances from the African diaspora, resulted in the “conclusions of Rabat”, which were transmitted to the African Union as a road map to obtain the effective reduction of the costs of remittances from the diaspora.

As part of actions related to the Togolese diaspora stricto sensu, we published on May 9, 2023 the results of the census of Togolese living abroad after a laborious process begun in 2021. The number of compatriots living outside our borders is estimated at 950,436 including 44.18% women and 55.82% men. This census is a first in the history of Togo. Its main challenge is to identify Togolese living outside national borders, to know them better, to control their geographical distribution throughout the world and to provide our country with a reliable database which can help in the development of public policies in favor of the diaspora. This database will make it possible to better promote the skills of the Togolese diaspora in order to transform their demographic and geostrategic assets into economic and social dividends in the interest of our country.

Question 9: Minister DUSSEY, we are coming to the end of our interview. Would you have any concluding words?

What else can I add, at the dawn of this new year, than to express to the Head of State, His Excellency Mr. Faure Essozimna GNASSINGBE, architect of the formidable transformation of our country, my wishes of good health, prosperity and peace.

I associate with these wishes, Prime Minister Madame Victoire TOMEGAH-DOGBE and all of my colleagues in the government.

I also send my best wishes to the diplomatic and consular corps accredited to Togo and to all Togo’s technical and financial partners who have continued to support the government in the implementation of actions in favor of the development of our country. and the well-being of our populations.

Finally, I express the hope that 2024 will be a peaceful year of health and well-being for the members of the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, both in their professional and private lives.

Happy New Year everyone!

Thank you.

Done in Lomé, December 27, 2023

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