Statement by H. E. Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroon, after the audience, Rome, 20 March 2017.
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,I would like to start by expressing my sincere gratitude to President Sergio Mattarella for inviting me. I also appreciate the warm welcome and hospitality extended to me and my delegation by the Italian authorities.
A year ago, the President of the Republic of Italy kindly paid us a memorable State visit in Cameroon. I am convinced that my visit to Italy, just like that of President Mattarella, will give our relations the powerful impetus that we both desire.
Our discussions a moment ago were cordial and highlighted a broad similarity of views on the issues we addressed.
Of course, the fight against the Boko Haram terrorist movement featured prominently in our discussions. Although weakened, this obscurantist sect is still dangerous.
I reiterated our gratitude to the President for the support we have received and continue to receive from Italy in this struggle. I avail myself of this opportunity to very sincerely thank the other countries and international organizations that are also providing us support. Such support enables us to meet many security, economic and humanitarian challenges.
We also discussed the political situation in Cameroon.
In that connection, I briefed President Mattarella on the progress made in the consolidation of our democracy.
We also discussed the situation in the North-West and South-West Regions of Cameroon. I assured him of the attachment of the vast majority of Cameroonians to peace in our country.
Our people hold dear two fundamental principles, namely national unity and diversity. Both principles are enshrined in our Constitution and have an inviolable value. My Government is open to any dialogue that does not, however, call into question the country’s unity and diversity.
We also reviewed the global political situation.
In that regard, we reaffirmed that a lasting solution to the problems facing the world can only be found through peaceful settlement and negotiation. This applies to the lingering conflicts in the Middle East and in some parts of Africa.
In this same spirit, President Mattarella and I agreed on the need to strengthen the role of the United Nations and complete the reform of the Security Council.
Regarding major sustainable development and environmental challenges, we believe that the initiatives taken by the United Nations Organization should be closely monitored, in particular as concerns global warming.
I also lauded the action undertaken by Italy to strengthen cooperation with Africa, notably through relations between the European Union and our continent. In the same vein, I expressed my wish for a successful outcome of the ministerial conference to be held in Rome next May, as part of the Italy/Africa Initiative.
We also addressed migration issues and their impact on regional and global stability. Both countries are concerned.
We are of the opinion that these issues can be resolved only through consultations between the countries of origin, transit and destination, based on international solidarity.
At the bilateral level, we have decided to deepen our cooperation.
Such cooperation should be furthered where it is already active, notably in the university and humanitarian domains.
On the economic front, President Mattarella and I believe that the needs identified under Cameroon’s development programmes are an ideal area for exchanges between our two countries.
I wish to add that our project to develop, in Cameroon, an industrial web tailored to our needs should attract the great power in the manufacturing industry that Italy has been for years. We are looking particularly at the timber, hides and skin, marble and agribusiness sectors.
Ladies and gentlemen, such, I believe, are the positive prospects for our two countries. I trust our two countries will avail themselves of the opportunities that President Mattarella and I have presented to you.
If that were to happen, Italy would undoubtedly become one of our major partners.