Cowen to tell Rwanda ‘never again’ on genocide anniversary

FOREIGN Minister Brian Cowen will represent the European Union today at a ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda.

As Ireland holds the EU presidency, Mr Cowen will deliver a speech, agreed by the EU, at the commemoration in the National Stadium in Kigali, attended by 60,000 people.

“Never Again” will be the key message of his speech, signifying that the international community, including the EU, cannot allow a reoccurence of the violence that claimed the lives of between 800,000 and 1 million people in just 13 weeks in 1994.

Mr Cowen’s sentiments will echo the words of the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, who is calling on the international community to take action to prevent and respond to genocide.

Yesterday, exactly 10 years after the death of then Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, Mr Cowen flew into the same airport where the plane carrying the President was about to land when it was shot down.

The anniversary has also placed the focus back on the inertia of the UN and individual countries in the face of the genocide in 1994.

Mr Kagame claims the perpetrators of the genocide are still willing to complete the job they started and could do it again given the chance. Mr Kagame has also pointed the finger of blame at one foreign country, which he did not name, stating it was among the planners and plotters of the genocide.

At home, a mass of remembrance, celebrated by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin will be held to mark the anniversary of the genocide at 6pm at the Church of Adam and Eve on Dublin’s Merchant’s Quay.

Amnesty International will mark the occasion in conjunction with people from Rwanda and Burundi who will read testimonies from fellow survivors at an event in Dublin before proceeding to a wreath-laying ceremony outside the Department of Foreign Affairs at 12.30pm.

Also yesterday, Mr Cowen continued his efforts, on behalf of the EU, to try to break the impasse between Ethiopia and Eritrea over a border dispute.

The peace process has stalled over Ethiopia’s refusal to comply with the binding decision on the drawing of the border following the 1998 war between the neighbouring countries.

After encouraging Eritrea to co-operate with UN mediation efforts and engage in political dialogue, Mr Cowen told Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi the EU’s clear position was that the border agreement must be implemented.

Tomorrow, Mr Cowen travels to Burundi, where he is expected to ask about progress in the investigation into the death of Archbishop Michael Courtney. The murder of the Vatican envoy, from Nenagh in Co Tipperary, last December, was the subject of a RTÉ documentary last night.

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