On 3 March 2016, the policy directors of the Nordic defence cooperation (NORDEFCO) met at Frederiksberg Castle in Copenhagen with the director of the Secretariat of Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF), Ambassador Chanfi Issimail.
At the meeting the policy directors of NORDEFCO and the director of EASF discussed EASF’s further development, EASF’s international partnerships, possible options for continued partnership and the possible deployment of EASF in Burundi if decided by the African Union.
During the visit the director addressed the cooperation with the Nordic countries and stated: We really appreciate the support from all our partners and mainly the Nordic countries. They have been very supportive. They support EASF politically, financially, technically and they have granted very valuable support to move EASF through the years. So we really thank them for the support and we believe that with the level that the EASF have come today there is a need to support EASF more.”
Concerning EASF’s development and role in the region Ambassador Chanfi noted: “EASF is ready – it is the status, but it is not the end. The achievement of full operational capability for EASF is for us the start of a new engagement in business. We have prepared for 10 years, now we have to face the realities, the reality is moving every day with new challenges coming. We have to see how we face and respond to this challenges and how we can take action that makes a difference. That is what we believe. We together have to embark more, to commit more, to dedicate more. Our objective is to make a difference, not simply to have a force ready, but to make a difference for the lives for the peoples of the region, in Africa and globally.”
In 2008, the Nordic Ministers of Defence decided to enter into a cooperation concerning capacity building in Africa and to give priority to Eastern Africa and to direct the support through the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), which takes place through the African Union and the sub-regional organisations. The purpose of capacity building is to support African partners in establishing needed defence capacities.
An essential part of the Nordic cooperation in Eastern Africa has been support to EASF and since 2009 a Nordic military advisor group has been placed together with the EASF headquarter in Nairobi, Kenya. A strong partnership has developed and the Nordic countries have played an important role in the development of EASF.
During Ambassador Issimail’s visit to Copenhagen the director also gave a presentation at the Royal Danish Defence College in cooperation with the Centre for Africa Studies at the University of Copenhagen and met with representatives from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Defence Command Denmark.