HomeMEDIA RESOURCES200420 October 2004 - PRESS COMMUNIQUE: NATO PARLIAMENTARIANS MEET IN MAURITANIA
20 October 2004 - PRESS COMMUNIQUE: NATO PARLIAMENTARIANS MEET IN MAURITANIA
The strategic importance of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania located at the crossroads of Arab Maghreb, Sahel and Sub-Saharan Africa was underlined by many participants. This represents a positive element for the international struggle against radical Islamist groups, which are increasingly using the Saharan region to establish new terrorist cells. Mauritania is not only actively participating in the NATO Mediterranean Dialogue, but, as US Ambassador J. Le Baron described, contributing with its troops to the Pan-Sahel counter-terrorism initiative, involving three other African states.
Participants in the seminar were also briefed on the efforts of Mauritania in strengthening its democratic institutions, while at the same time struggling to solve its daunting economic and social problems, including the situation for women. The struggle to ensure better living conditions in the extremely poor countryside was highlighted by Cecile Molinier the local representative of the UNDP. The recent discovery of oil off the coast of Mauritania has brought some hope but also concerns about the need to distribute future oil revenues throughout the entire population.
During a meeting with NATO PA members, President of the Republic Maaouye Ould Sid’Achmed Taya stressed the importance of improving levels of education throughout the country as the best insurance for the future. He also expressed concern at the foreign influence responsible for the recent failed coup d’etat in Mauritania.
The compatibility and coexistence of Islam and democracy, now a regular theme in NATO PA Mediterranean seminars, was addressed by Turkish scholar Mualla Selcuk and Mauritanian expert Hamden Ould Tah and energetically and frankly discussed by all participants.
Members of the NATO PA were particularly impressed and pleased by the quality and openness of their debates with their Mauritanian colleagues.