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Cameroon - Foreign Relations

Cameroon generally maintains good relations with its neighbours, but keeps a low profile on regional and international issues. Cameroon's non-contentious, low-profile approach to foreign relations puts it squarely in the middle of other African and developing states on major issues. It supports the principle of noninterference in the affairs of third countries and increased assistance to underdeveloped countries. Cameroon voting record at the United Nations demonstrates its commitment to causes that include international peacekeeping, environmental protection, and Third World economic development. In the UN and other human rights fora, Cameroon generally abstains from contentious votes.

Although officially non-aligned, Cameroon sought relations with as many nations as possible, always in an effort to benefit Cameroonian development and stability. Close ties were maintained with France and the European Economic Community (EEC, known as the Common Market), of which Cameroon was an associated member. Viable relations with various African continental and regional organizations were also of considerable importance. Strong opposition, however, was voiced regarding the white minority regimes of southern Africa.

A founding member of the OAU (Organisation of African Unity) which later became AU, Cameroon based its diplomacy on one of the basic principles of this pan African organisation: non-interference in the internal affairs of other States. This desire at maintaining sacred, the sovereignty of third countries has usually been erroneously seen as an astonishing indifference, looking at the leadership position that Cameroon holds in the Central African sub region, which is prey to unceasing conflicts.

Conscious of the distortion and in a bid to give his country a better image to match its real potential, President Paul Biya started a vigorous action of reorientation and dynamisation of Cameroon's foreign policy. This option was translated by a remarkable coming to power of Cameroon's diplomacy which is deployed generously in all fronts, starting with organisations and multilateral institutions with which the country is linked: UN, AU, Francophonie, Commonwealth, OCI, CEMAC, World Bank, etc. Here and there, Cameroon has been putting every thing in place to make its voice heard by proposing areas of reflection that should help build a better and solid international society.

Added to this will is an increasing involvement in the management of conflicts, from Yaounde, notably through interposition forces whether concerning Cambodia, Darfur, Central African Republic, etc. under the auspices of the UN who are known for their dominant role in world political scene. In this instance as in others, with a constant determination, Cameroon's participation was constantly exercised in the sense of dialogue, negotiation, respect of the sovereignty and integrity of States. These values are held by Yaounde as being cardinal for democracy and respect for international law.

Nigeria and Cameroon had a long-running dispute over their border, including the oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula. This at times occasionally escalated into armed clashes. The ICJ settled the dispute in October 2002, awarding sovereignty of the Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon. Nigerian Forces withdrew from Bakassi in August 2006 under the June Greentree agreement which allows for a continued Nigerian civil authority presence for a limited time in part of the region. The resolution of the conflict by Presidents Obasanjo and Biya was widely heralded as model for Africa and the rest of the World. Cameroon assumed control of the Bakassi peninsula in August 2008. While there have been no reported attacks by armed groups on Cameroonian military forces in the last six years, Cameroon's military authorities restrict access to the Bakassi Peninsula. US official travelers must receive prior approval from Embassy authorities to travel to this area. US employees are not permitted to make personal travel to the region.

Cameroon hoped at some point in the future to export electricity to Nigeria from Adamoua Region. The neighbors are cooperating in telecommunications and in demarcating the border as part of the UN-sponsored Mixed Commission process.

Cameroon's relationship with its neighbors is generally excellent and improving, with the exception of Equatorial Guinea. The Equatorial Guineagovernment is uncomfortable with the size of the Cameroonian population in the country (which she estimated at 20-30,0000) and in June 2010 expelled about 1,000 Cameroonians. EG-Cameroon tensions have been exacerbated in recent years not only by the expulsion of Cameroonians and maritime border disputes but by the 2008 kidnapping by EG of an army colonel who had been granted asylum in Cameroon. Nonetheless, Cameroon and EG have worked together to reform BEAC, cooperated in a September conference to demarcate maritime borders, and met in Mixed Commission meetings to discuss various disputes.

The celebration in Yaounde of the 8th edition of the Cameroon-Europe friendship day under the theme "50 years of cooperation Cameroon- Europe and fight against poverty" in June 201 1 with a remarkable show, attests of the vital relationship be1ween the 1wo parties. Since 1958, cooperation be1ween Cameroon and Europe has always been in perfect 'harmony with development being the priority of Yaounde. We know that the EU is well ahead of Cameroon's partners, given the volume of exchange, without forgetting French, British, German, Dutch, and Spanish... cooperation on the bilateral side. Besides, in favour of vast diplomatic movement carried out in 2007 and 2008, Cameroon renewed or reinforced its representations in various European capitals with this sought-for objective being to intensify and reaffirm cooperation with each of the concerned States.

Between 1960 and 1964 some 10,000 French troops were in Cameroon, assisting the government against the insurgency.

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