Official relations were established between ECOWAS and the State of Israel.
(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
Ambassador to Nigeria Noam Katz, who is also accredited to Ghana, on Thursday (25 May 2006) presented his credentials to Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, the secretary-general of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) at the organization’s headquarters in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
Ibn Chambas welcomed the establishment of official relations between ECOWAS and the State of Israel and praised Israel for its great contribution to the economic and social development of West Africa. Ambassador Katz thanked the secretary-general for accepting his appointment and expressed the hope that the formalization of relations would bring about a deepening of cooperation between Israel and the countries of the region, particularly in the fields of agriculture, environmental quality, culture, and scientific and technological development.
ECOWAS was established in 1975 for the purpose of advancing economic integration and creating an economic and political bloc in West Africa; a region rich in resources such as diamonds and oil, but which suffered from the ongoing problems of underdevelopment, poverty, and the lack of political stability. Today ECOWAS plays key roles not only in economic integration and development, but also in politics and security, for example through its peacekeeping forces in the region and its monitoring of the West African arms trade. The latter is at the center of international efforts to prevent small arms from reaching the hands of terrorists and organized criminals.
ECOWAS has 15 member states – Burkina Fasso, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Togo, Cape Verde, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Sierra Leone, and Senegal – with a total population of some 220 million. Israel maintains diplomatic ties with all members of the organization except Mali, Guinea, and Niger.