Liberia, EU Reinforce Political Relations At Fourth Dialogue in Monrovia
Monrovia – The European Union (EU) has expressed confidence in the Liberian Government’s ability to take full responsibility for its own security following the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) drawdown at the end of June 2016.
Both parties recognized that peace and security are germane to governance and development and therefore agreed to continue collaboration on justice and security sector reform and on the importance of appropriate resource allocation for the justice and security sector.
They also shared views and concerns on the current security situation and further affirmed their willingness to continue dialogue on issues of shared concern, such as counter-terrorism.
According to a Foreign Ministry release, these were contained in a joint press release at the end of the 4th EU-Liberia Political Dialogue held at the C. Cecil Dennis, Jr. Auditorium early last week. The Dialogue which focused on the theme: “Conditions for Peace and Economic Growth,” covered a wide range of issues including justice and security sector, human rights, the 2017 Presidential and legislative elections, the Liberian economy, development strategies and investment climate, among others.
On human rights and the rule of law, both, Liberia and the EU, acknowledged the significant progress made in building and strengthening institutions and putting in place processes to protect and promote human rights.
The EU urged Liberia to do more to meet the commitments it has made internationally and to the people of Liberia, particularly on sexual and gender based violence and expressed its hope for the swift passage of the Domestic Violence Act, without amendment.
Both parties agreed on the importance of good governance as well as strong anti-corruption measures, including credible investigations and prosecutions by the relevant Liberian authorities.
As regards the upcoming Presidential and legislative elections in 2017, the EU and Liberia recognized the 2017 elections as a key moment in this country’s post-conflict history and expressed confidence in the National Elections Commission, recounting its recent track record of peaceful, free and fair elections.
Earlier, Government provided an update on the preparatory works including the financial and legislative requirements for smooth elections.
The European Union recalled its significant support already provided through the €10 million (euros) commitment for the 2015-2018 Electoral Cycle support project as well as its budget support to the Government of Liberia. Both parties further agreed to continue dialogue on electoral issues.
On economic and trade issues, Government enumerated the austerity measures adopted to respond to budget deficit as well as those instituted to diversify the economy and stimulate growth in light of the grim impact of the Ebola Virus Disease and the fall in global commodity prices. Government also recounted measures taken to secure long term development by expanding economic growth and private sector investment, including in the agriculture sector through value-addition.
The EU welcomed these efforts and reaffirmed its commitment to supporting Liberia through direct grant budget support, advising that a budget support disbursement of up to €16.5 million (euros) has recently been approved by Brussels. Both parties agreed to hold a regular comprehensive dialogue on all aspects of budget support.
Touching on the investment climate, Liberia recalled measures instituted to improve the investment climate, including ratification of the Protocol on World Trade Organization (WTO) accession and other legislations linked to the accession process.
The EU welcomed this progress and expressed willingness to continue engagement on issues of importance to current and potential European investors, including predictable application of regulations and actions against corruption at all levels.
Regarding bilateral trade matters, Liberia expressed commitment to regional trade initiatives under the EU-ECOWAS Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Both sides expressed satisfaction with the positive impact of the EU-Liberia Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on forestry management and looked forward to the first meeting of the Joint Implementation Committee for the EU-Liberia Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement.
On development cooperation, Liberia recounted the mid-term review of the Agenda for Transformation which offered a great opportunity to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the African Union Agenda 2063 and Liberia’s Vision 2030. The EU welcomed the single framework approach for improved coordination and building synergy in development plans.
Touching on ECOWAS and the African Union (AU) developments, Liberia highlighted recent developments within the ECOWAS and the AU, including successful elections held in the ECOWAS Member States of Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Benin and Niger.
Discussions also covered the implementation of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and the transition of leadership at the AU. The European Union recounted recent changes in funding for the African Peace Facility and highlighted that migration issues remain one of the EU’s priorities.
On climate change, both sides recognized the importance of the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change and called for ratification by United Nations Member States. Liberia hailed the EU’s decision to allocate €6 million (euros) from the Global Climate Change Alliance to support climate change and environmental related activities in Liberia.
On the issuance of Schengen visas in Liberia, both parties agreed to work on modalities for the issuance of Schengen visas in Liberia. The European Union acknowledged the current challenges facing Liberians in securing visas and committed itself to exploring all possible options to mitigate the problem.
The Liberian delegation was headed by Her Excellency Ms. Marjon Kamara, Minister of Foreign Affairs, while Her Excellency Ms. Tiina Intelmann, Ambassador and Head of the European Delegation to Liberia led the EU delegation.
Article 8 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement (between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific States) establishes a regular and comprehensive political dialogue leading to commitments on both sides. The Dialogue was formally launched in June 2012.