Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to you for the opportunity to make this Statement to this august House, the Parliament of Ghana's free Republic, on matters relating to Ghanaian diplomacy, with particular reference to the forthcoming Summit of the African Union (AU) which is due to be held here in Accra later this year.
As hon. Members are aware, the Assembly of the Union, that is the gathering of Heads of State and Government at its meeting at AU Headquarters in Addis- Ababa on 29th January, unanimously elected the President of the Republic, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor to the Chair of the Union for this jubilee year of 2007. This is the second time that a Ghanaian leader has been so honoured. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, our first President, chaired the deliberations of the then continental entity, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) at its third Summit
which took place here in Accra in 1965.
Just as in 1965, the convening of the OAU Summit here was a tribute by our peers in Africa to both the pioneering role our nation played and the sacrifices our people made in the struggle for the liberation of our continent from imperialism and the outstanding contribution of our then leader, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, to the growth of Pan- Africanism, including the creation of the OAU itself.
Mr. Speaker, several events of great significance will occur this jubilee year which will test Ghanaian diplomacy to its limits. Already in January, we have hosted the African Partnership Forum in Accra under the co-chairmanship of the German President, His Excellency Horst Kohler, and the President of the Republic.
The President returned home yesterday from his historic state visit to the United Kingdom, the first of its kind by a Ghanaian leader. [Hear! Hear!] Its overwhelming success has been a matter of great joy for our entire people, both at home and abroad, and I have no doubt that the House shares fully the sentiments of the people.
Mr. Speaker, on his recent absence, the President also paid a one-day official visit to Portugal, which will assume the presidency of the European Union (EU) for the second half of this year. He agreed with Portuguese Prime Minister Joe Socrates that the much-delayed Africa-
Europe Summit will take place in Lisbon in December under the joint sponsorship of the Portuguese presidency of the EU and the Ghanaian chairmanship of the AU. [Hear! Hear!] The Summit promises to be truly historic for they will seek to elaborate the basis of a new transformed relationship between Europe and Africa.
Mr. Speaker, the President took the opportunity of his presence to engage the Portuguese leadership, President, Prime Minister and Speaker of the National Assembly, on the need to develop and expand the bilateral relations between our two countries. It is somewhat anomalous that the first Europeans on our shores five hundred years ago are the ones with whom now we have the least contact.
Portugal is today a vibrant democracy with a fast-growing economy, playing its part fully in Europe's development. There is every mutual advantage to be gained from more intimate relations with her in areas such as construction, trade, tourism, cultural exchanges and international affairs, and a determined effort is going to be made to get these relations moving.
Mr. Speaker, the last leg of the President's tour was in Algiers to participate in the meeting of the AU Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee on NEPAD, which finally completed the streamlining of the NEPAD initiative into the structures of the AU. One year has been given to achieve this. A NEPAD Development Agency to be created, responsible to the Heads of State and Government Implementation Commit-tee, will be chaired by Ethiopia's able Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, when the Nigerian leader, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo leaves office in May this year.
Algiers permitted the seven-man African delegation to this year's G-8 Summit in Germany in June, which will be led by the President of the Republic, to concert on the African position at the G-8 Summit.
There is a determination, shared in whole by the President, that a more businesslike, project-specific input be made the basis of the NEPAD discussions with the nations of the G-8. It is proposed to hold in the wake of the G-8 Summit, a Turkey-African Summit in Istanbul, which will be led on the African side by the President.
Prior to the G-8 Summit in June, the President will co-preside with the German President the Africa Partnership Forum, which will be held in Berlin in May. It will review the developments initiated here in Accra in January.
Mr. Speaker, the centrepiece of this year's diplomatic calendar is the AU Summit which will be held in Accra between 25th June and 3rd July. It will be followed by the AGOA meeting in Accra in July under the co-sponsorship of the US government. This in turn will be followed by the India-Africa Summit in the latter part of July, and as I said earlier, the Africa-Europe Summit in Lisbon is in December.
It appears, Mr. Speaker, that duty has called Ghana again to service. The decision of the January Addis Ababa Summit was that the main theme of the Accra Summit will be the direction of the Union. What sort of government or system do we want to govern and regulate the affairs of this Union? For sometime, it has become apparent that we need clarity on this fundamental issue to permit us to go ahead to organise the Union more effectively and with greater unity of purpose. Do we want a federal govern- ment for ourselves, a United States of