It was all smiles at the ceremonial summit dinner, but human rights threaten to steal the headlines at the EU/Africa talks in Portugal. Germany’s Angela Merkel challenged African leaders to confront abuses on their doorsteps, as the two sides forge a new partnership between the two continents.
The summit host, Portuguese President Annibal Cavaco Silva, reminded his guests that it is the 50th anniversary of the European Union, and also half a century since European colonialists began to roll out independence across Africa. He said it was an ideal moment to reinforce the ideals of democracy and respect for the law and human rights. He called for a new partnership, a model for the future.
The target of much criticism here, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe made a low-key entry, turning up late for dinner and missing the speech. Earlier in the day, he’d been forced to listen to a direct attack as the German Chancellor singled him out for damaging the image of the new Africa.