Zovko co-organises conference on security in Sahel with EU Special Representative for the region and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung

Brussels, 28 February 2023


Željana Zovko, Vice Chair of the Committee of Foreign Affairs in the European Parliament, co-organised a seminar together with Emanuela Claudia Del Re, the European Union Special Representative for the Sahel and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, on the security situation in the Sahel. During the event titled “Demystifying Russian security engagement in the Sahel: Can Europe fill the emerging security vacuum?”, participants discussed the latest developments in the African region and exchanged views on what the EU´s comprehensive security engagement in the region should look like.

After the introductory remarks by the hosts, Delina Goxho, author of recent study “European aphasia in the Sahel: stabilizing how?” presented a brief overview Russian engagement in the Sahel. This was followed by a panel discussion with prominent speakers such as H.E. Abdellahi Bah Nagi Kebd, Ambassador of Mauritania to the EU, the OPCW, the Benelux and Scandinavian countries, Aude Maio-Coliche, Director, Strategic Communication and Foresight, EEAS and Col. Dominik Horn, Special Advisor to the Chairman of the EU Military Committee. The panel was moderated by Ulf Laessing, Head of KAS regional office for the Sahel in Mali.

In 2019, Zovko was shadow rapporteur for the parliamentary report on EU-African security cooperation in the Sahel, West Africa and the Horn of Africa and has been monitoring the region closely. In her opening remarks she underlined that the challenges in the Sahel are not only a threat to the stability and security of the region but also have implications for Europe’s security.

Zovko is currently working on a report in the foreign affairs committee on preventive diplomacy. Her goal is to assess where the EU has failed in conflict prevention and what how the EU can improve its preventive actions. “The lack of EU Member States’ understanding of the security implications in the Sahel has created a vacuum that is eagerly filled by Russian and Chinese influences. By promising security and military equipment, these actors are winning the hearts of the African countries, to the disadvantage of the EU. This Russian infiltration is also visible in the the changing voting habits of African countries in multilateral fora.” said Zovko. She called on a more coordinated and comprehensive European approach that focuses both on stabilisation of the partner countries and sustainable institution building.

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