Wednesday, the 17th May 2023 marked the official opening of the first Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in the Republic of The Gambia.
To celebrate this occasion, a reception was held at the African Princess Beach Hotel, preceded by the official opening of the Embassy premises (previously the Liaison Office Banjul of the German Embassy Dakar).
In honour of the big milestone, Minister of State in the German Federal Foreign Office, Ms Katja Keul, visited The Gambia and, together with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, Dr Momodou Tangara, unveiled the embassy shield.
The dignitaries emphasised that increasing the German diplomatic presence in Banjul is “a testimony of the deepening friendly relations and strengthening of the bilateral cooperation between The Gambia and Germany”, a symbol of Germany’s commitment to The Gambia and an appreciation of The Gambia’s democratic transformation process, said Minister of State Katja Keul.
Since The Gambia’s democratic transition started in 2017, relations between the two countries have picked up, and many initiatives have been jointly implemented to strengthen The Gambia’s security, economy, health and education sectors, to name but a few. In addition to the broad intergovernmental cooperation it is above all the private engagement and the exchange between Gambians and Germans that welds the countries together. Many Germans have travelled to the “Smiling Coast of Africa” and got to know the hospitality; others have come to live and work here.
To recognise these efforts and to better serve crucial areas such as politics, economy, culture and education, Germany is opening its first Embassy in The Gambia.
However, the German Embassy Banjul will remain a small representation with only a small team. This means that consular services and visa issuance continue to be taken care of by the German Embassy in Dakar, which also assists the representation in Banjul with administrative matters.
Opening embassies is not something you do every day. I am all the more delighted to have the honour of opening our newest embassy today (17 May), the German Embassy in Banjul, together with my colleague Honourable Minister Dr Mamadou Tangara.
The opening of this Embassy is a testament to how well the friendly relations between The Gambia and Germany have developed in recent years. But it also stands for the fact that we intend to open a new chapter in our relations. Because we are committed to intensifying our cooperation – politically, economically and culturally. That is what embassies are for, including the one in The Gambia, at 1 Paradise Beach Place in Kololi, Banjul.
The Gambia has repositioned itself as a young democracy in the past few years. It is impressive to see just how much progress the country has made in this regard, and also how it is coming to terms with its past. Gambians can be proud of this development. The Gambia has, in recent years, become a pioneer of peaceful transition and coming to terms with its own history.
A look at the past shows that this cannot be taken for granted. Also in Germany, coming to terms with the past remains an enduring task and responsibility. Germany will therefore gladly continue to support this positive development in The Gambia. Already today, Germany, together with further international partners such as the European Union, is committed to supporting the process of democratisation and stabilisation in The Gambia, including with the promotion of police training.
Moreover, The Gambia is standing up against injustice not only at home, but also around the world. For example, The Gambia campaigned before the International Court of Justice in The Hague for the protection of the Rohingya minority persecuted in Myanmar. Germany supports this important engagement on the part of The Gambia and intends to lend its support to these proceedings.
I am also glad to know that we are in agreement on the need to condemn attacks on the international peaceful order. If a country such as Russia attacks its neighbour Ukraine in violation of international law, destroying its civilian infrastructure and killing civilians time and again as part of its warfare, we cannot remain silent.
I believe that the opening of our Embassy here in Banjul is therefore also a step towards consolidating Germany’s and The Gambia’s commitment to our common values, to the global defence and strengthening of international law as well as the respect for human rights.
Good and reliable partnerships are indispensable in our world of today. In the face of global challenges such as climate change and tackling poverty, we all need to be even more committed to achieving common goals and to standing up for our values. This is an investment in our common future. We want to work together with The Gambia in such a partnership, one that the German Embassy in Banjul will do everything in its power to support.
Last but not least, I would like to mention the great number of initiatives spearheaded by Gambians and Germans and the exchange that they enjoy. These are the connections that bind our two countries together. Many Germans have travelled the “Smiling Coast of Africa” and have become acquainted with and appreciate its legendary hospitality. Others have come to live and work in The Gambia.
I was particularly moved by the project undertaken by my fellow German Uwe Becker, who is fondly referred to here as “Papa Buba”. He initially came to The Gambia as a tourist, but ended up staying for good. Becker purchased the ruins of a half-finished school building in the village of Mandina and paid for the construction costs out of his own pocket so that the village children could enjoy a school education. Prior to this, the nearest school was seven kilometres away in Brikama! Today, 430 boys and, above all, girls are educated at the Emma-Christine Lower Basic School, which is named after Papa Buba’s two daughters. This impressed me deeply and showed me just how much each and every individual can achieve.
The partnership between Germany and The Gambia is bearing fruit in so many respects. It is my sincere wish that these successes will be continued and expanded with the opening of the German Embassy in Banjul! #GERinGambia