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Togo - Foreign Relations

Although Togo's foreign policy is nonaligned, it has strong historical and cultural ties with western Europe, especially France and Germany, the former colonial powers. Togo recognizes the People's Republic of China, North Korea, and Cuba. It re-established relations with Israel in 1987.

Togo pursues an active foreign policy and participates in many international organizations. It is particularly active in West African regional affairs and in the African Union. Relations between Togo and neighboring states are generally good.

Togo has generally enjoyed good relations with its West African neighbors. However, relations with Ghana were strained when Eyadema and Jerry Rawlings were in power - both accused the other of supporting dissidents to their regimes. Both Benin and Ghana have periodically received refugees from the political instability in Togo.

Relations with Ghana have not always been easy. The colonial borders after the First World War, split the Ewe people between Ghana and Togo. This grievance has been exacerbated by Ewe resentment of what they see as northern domination in Togo. In 1986 Togo closed the border for nine months after accusing Ghana of complicity in an abortive coup Relations with Ghana improved following the election of John Kufuor as President in Ghana, who enjoyed warmer relations with Eyadema. Eyadema was involved in conflict mediation in Sierra Leone (in the late 1990s) and more recently in Cote d'Ivoire.

Togo contributed troops to the ECOWAS stabilisation forces in Guinea-Bissau in 1999 and in Liberia in 2003.

Togo has enjoyed close, if complex, relations with its two former colonial powers - France and Germany. Eyadema was particularly close to the French Gaullist tradition, having served in the French colonial army in the 1950s. He enjoyed good relations with President Chirac, who frequently defended his record. Relations with Germany on the other hand, and with the EU as a whole, were marked by controversy over democracy and human rights. Relations with the EU improved considerably since the political reforms put in place since Eyademas death.

French influence and culture is dominant despite moves to Africanize, such as the refusal of the authorities to register 'foreign' first names for Togolese citizens and the President's decision in 1975 to adopt an African first name. The official language is French, despite there being a number of local languages, the most important of which are Ew6 and Kabye. The educational system is French based and the judicial system is derived from the Code Napoleon. The administration and judiciary are French tiained, while the economy is bound into the French economic orbit through the CFA franc.

In Togo's favor was its agricultural self sufficiency, its strong sense of national identity born of rich pre-independence history and exposure to other cultures, and its political stability. It has a relaxed, flexible attitude to foreigners - it is by all accounts the environment in West Africa in which Europeans feel safest and most comfortable - and is now actively encouraging their participation in development.

The "22 Commitments" agreed by the Government of Togo and the European Union in mid-2004 have helped to provide a framework for efforts to end Togo's long political impasse. One of the commitments called for a national dialogue involving all major political actors. This dialogue began in April 2006 and produced a road map for further reforms, including the appointment of a national unity government whose primary task would be the organization of free and fair legislative elections.

Togo is a member of the French backed Franc Zone organisation the Union Economique et Monetaire Oeust Africaine (UEMOA), and of the Libya backed organisation CENSAD (previously COMESSA).

European Union (EU) aid was suspended from the early 1990s due to concerns over democracy. Finance from the IMF has been minimal, due to concerns over financial management, although the World Bank and the Africa Development Bank are engaged in some project spending. France has provided some bilateral aid. Negotiations for re-starting EU aid began again in early 2004, leading to 22 specific commitments made to the EU in April 2004. The main commitment was the holding of credible parliamentary and local elections. Following the elections of October 2007, the EU announced on 19 November that normal relations had been resumed. Aid flows, which had already picked up, can now be expected to increase further.





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