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Congo-Brazzaville - Foreign Relations

For the 2 decades preceding Congo's 1991 national conference, the country was firmly in the socialist camp, allied principally with the Soviet Union and other Eastern bloc nations. Educational, economic, and foreign aid links between Congo and its Eastern bloc allies were extensive, with the Congolese military and security forces receiving significant Soviet, East German, and Cuban assistance.

France, the former colonial power, maintained a continuing but somewhat subdued relationship with Congo, offering a variety of cultural, educational, and economic assistance. The principal element in the French-Congolese relationship was the highly successful oil sector investment of the French petroleum parastatal Elf-Aquitaine (now called Total), which entered the Congo in 1968 and continued to grow.

Since 1963 the successive governments of the country proclaimed a policy of nonalignment in foreign affairs but, beginning in 1964, the government moved to establish close ties with many Communist countries, and Brazzaville gradually came to be looked upon as a center of Soviet and Chinese Communist influence in central Africa. On almost all matters of international importance government declarations were aligned with the Communist states.

After proclaiming the country a People's Republic in January 1970, President Ngouabi declared that the Congolese people had un-remittingly embarked on the development of socialism and total emancipation from foreign control. He stated that the foreign policy of the Congolese People's Republic could be summed up in the words "freedom, independence, friendship, and peace." He asserted the desire of his government to have friendly relations with all nations and the desire of his nation to choose the course best adapted to its specific situation.

Both the Massamba-Debat and Ngouabi governments demonstrated support for the liberation movements operating in Portugal's African territories. One of the principal Angolan liberation organizations, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (Movimento Popular de LibertacTo de Angola — MPLA), was based in Congo (Brazzaville), and the country also sheltered elements of the guerrilla movement that operated in the enclave of Cabinda.

After several incidents involving alleged border and airspace violations by Portuguese forces, the Brazzaville government severed diplomatic relations with Portugal in August 1965. The liberation movement radio service, Radio Free Portugal, announced in July 1969 that representatives of Congo (Brazzaville) joined representatives of Algeria and Egypt on a ten-day visit to MPLA-liberated regions of Angola. Relations between Portugal and the Congo remained broken in 1970.

During the 1960s the government maintained active memberships in various international organizations. In addition to its member¬ship in the monetary union and in the economic and customs union, the Congo was a member of several other African organizations, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and it became an associate member of the European Economic Commu-nity. In early 1970 the government had diplomatic relationships with eight European nations, Canada, Israel, and nine Communist states, including the Soviet Union and Communist China; trade agreements had been completed with several others.

On the other hand, relations with the United States and Congo (Kinshasa) had deteriorated. After several instances of difficulties involving improper treatment of its officials by the Congolese, the United States had closed its embassy in Brazzaville in August 1965. In the absence of assurances of normal diplomatic rights and rela¬tionships for United States representatives, formal relationships had not been resumed by 1970. United States interests in the Congo were handled by the ambassador of the Federal Republic of Ger¬many ( West Germany), and Congolese interests that involved the United States were represented by France.

In late 1968 the government had severed relationships with the neighboring Congo (Kinshasa). The capitals of the two countries were within sight of each other on opposite shores of the Congo River. Despite their political differences, traffic and trade between Brazzaville and Kinshasa were renewed briefly during 1969, only to be cut off late in November when tensions increased. The official policies announced by Congo (Brazzaville) at the beginning of 1970 indicated a further shift toward alignment with the Communist nations, possibly symbolized by the new flag, which included a hammer and sickle on a field of red.

The Soviets reportedly sought — but failed to get — use of naval facilities in both Equatorial Guinea and Congo. Moscow delivered three patrol craft to Equatorial Guinea in 1975 and increased the number of advisers there. Brazzaville was reported to be discontented with the way Soviet aid projects are being implemented and the amount of Soviet assistance given in contrast with that given by the Chinese. Some Congolese students returning home after training in the USSR erre disillusioned, and Soviet fishing off the Congo rankled that country. Nonetheless, Brazzaville allowed the Soviets to use Pointe Noire to channel supplies to African liberation groups in Angola and southern Africa.

After the worldwide collapse of communism and Congo's adoption of multi-party democracy in 1991, Congo's bilateral relations with its former socialist allies became relatively less important. France is now by far Congo's principal external partner, contributing significant amounts of economic assistance, while playing a highly influential role. However, there is a growing interest in attracting American investors.

Contacts are regular with China, which has become one of Congo's leading economic partners (with France and the United States). Beijing has intense economic activity in the country (construction, wood, oil, minerals). President Xi Jinping paid a working visit to Brazzaville in March 2013 during his first African tour, while President Sassou traveled to Beijing in June 2014. Brazzaville has also been for a number of years With economies such as Turkey, Russia, Brazil and India.

Despite recent cooling due to border disputes, the main regional ally remains Angola, whose aid was decisive during the civil wars. Denis Sassou Nguesso made a state visit to Luanda in March 2015 to consolidate bilateral relations.

In the Central African Republic, President Sassou played an important role in the conduct of the political process leading up to the elections in late 2015 and early 2016. Chairman of the follow-up committee of the Libreville agreements concluded on 11 January 2013 between the Central African Under the auspices of the Economic Community of Central African States, the Brazzaville Forum (July 2013) and, above all, the Bangui Forum (May 2015), was held under the auspices of the Economic Community of Central African States The process of dialogue and reconciliation. The Congo has also been financially active (loan of € 38 million, donation of € 6 million for payment of salaries) and is still militarily active (981 military and police officers in MINUSCA).

Brazzaville is a signatory to the Addis Ababa framework agreement for peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region, which is launching a regional political dialogue aimed at a lasting resolution of the conflict. In this capacity, President Sassou organized summits with variable geometry with the heads of state of the region and facilitated the process of national consultations in the DRC.

During the last week of February 2009, Brazzaville hosted a Council of Ministers meeting of the Peace and security Council of Central Africa (COPAX). According to the communiqui issued after the meeting, the ministers urged their colleagues to implement fully the program to eliminate light/small caliber weapons. Agreeing with a working group recommendation, they urged rapid action to set up the regional logistics center at Douala, approved the recommendations of the planning work for exercise "KWANZA 2010" to be held in Angola in 2010, stating an expectation that the African Union could certify the Central African brigade of the African standby force during the exercise. The press reported that the meeting was attended by Angola, Cameroon, Congo(B), Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, DRC, Central African Republic, Sao Tome and Principe, and Chad, as well as the secretary general of CEEAC, Louis Sylvain Goma.

Congo is a member of the United Nations, African Union, African Development Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO), Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), Central African Customs and Economic Union (UDEAC), International Coffee Organization, Economic Community of Central African States ECCAS/CEEAC), INTERPOL, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Nonaligned Movement, the Group of 77, and a number of international commissions. Congo was elected to the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 for a 3-year term. Congo held a seat on the United Nations Security Council during 2006-2007. Beginning in January 2006, President Sassou-Nguesso served a 1-year term as Chairman of the African Union. He has been a highly vocal and visible head of state in regional affairs, including serving as a member of the ad hoc AU Heads of State High Committee on Libya and as an advisor during the leadership crisis in Cote d’Ivoire.

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