Last weekend, a delegation of 34 diplomats representing Rwanda’s interests in their respective countries as Honorary Consuls were on a tour of the country. They visited projects in Rulindo, Musanze and Rubavu districts. Rwanda’s ambassador to Germany, Christine Nkulikiyinka, accompanied the consuls on the tour. In an interview with The New Times’ Felly Kimenyi, Amb. Nkulikiyinka spoke of the significance of the tour and other issues in her diplomatic posting.
Briefly tell us about the tour that just saw you take Rwanda’s honorary consuls to the north-western part of the country.
The tour was very good and a fantastic idea as we were outside of Kigali. When most of our honorary consuls come, they stay in Kigali and just don’t see a lot of things that are very important. It was an opportunity for us to meet and discuss which is also very important. It was well-organised as we had good visits to different sites and we got a lot of information.
Exactly what is the role of these honorary consuls?
They are representing our country, so they are representing our interests and their help and support is very important.
We have less than 25 embassies across the world, which means that these consuls do represent us where we cannot be.
Rwanda is preparing to commemmorate the 21st anniversary of the Genocide against the Tutsi and focus is on countering the genocide ideology that is more rampant in the Western countries. What do you think is the role of the Rwandan Diaspora in countering this ideology?
I think the most important thing is for the Diaspora to understand it first since it’s not quite easy. There’s always that kind of hidden ideology so we have to first be able to detect this problem and we engage.
When we meet, we always tell them not to keep quiet but to react if they have the opportunity to write in the newspapers. To stand out and speak out what they think and in particular against genocide.
Are they doing that?
Some are doing it, others try and it’s also sometimes a question of personality and being shy and many other reasons. But we encourage them to do it.
We have these meetings by Genocide suspects and their sympathisers are given a forum to deny the Genocide against the Tutsi. How best do you think these can be countered?
I think the best thing is to challenge them at their own forums. Like when we hear of their gatherings or meetings, we find it better to also encourage Rwandans to attend and challenge them and provide the accurate information and demystify the negative propaganda these people are circulating.
We have this trial going on involving the founders of the FDLR in Germany. Are you happy with the progress in that trial and do you think it’s going to amount to anything in terms of eliminating the threat that is the FDLR?
First of all, this trial is a juridical matter and so I can’t give any judgement on it. But it is very commendable that they started it and did it.
It’s has been on now for more than three years and this also shows that it is a serious matter and should also be taken with the deserved seriousness since the trials are taking so long and also have some witnesses supposed to come from the FDLR. So we are also following it closely but as I said it is a judicial matter. And I hope this will also weaken the group.
How has Germany fared in terms of apprehending in general, fugitives of the 1994 Genocide?
As far as we know, all known fugitives in Germany are captured and tried and so some of them escaped and went to other countries when they heard of the manhunt against them, they have since gone to countries they are sure they will be safe.
And our judicial institutions (between Rwanda and Germany) are working very closely together, so in case one is suspected, the Germans are very keen and very ready to intervene and apprehend them.
On the economic front, Germany is known as one of the most industrialised nations, do you find any interest by German investors to come and invest in Rwanda?
Yes, I definitely see a difference now. They were very reluctant to come to Africa in general just a few years back but now you see that they are getting interested in Africa and got the idea that Africa is a continent of opportunities. They are coming and also have another German delegation coming to Rwanda at the end of the month.
The other countries to which I am accredited like Poland for example are interested. We are working with them closely and we are even planning another business event on Rwanda in Poland to showcase the opportunities available in Rwanda. We are also working on another investment conference in Austria so we can also interest them to come to Rwanda.
The interview was transcribed by Mary Ingabire.