Liberia: ‘Negatively-Charged’ Environment Could Thwart EU Development Goals
Monrovia –Ambassador Hélène Cavé, the Head of European Union delegation in Liberia says while the European Union and its Member States, are deeply committed to continuing to support Liberia’s peace-building and development efforts, those efforts cannot succeed in a negatively charged political environment.
Speaking Thursday during the occasion to mark Europe Day 2019, Ambassador Cavé said as a strong multilateral partner to Liberia, the EU continues to remind all stakeholders of the importance of a constructive dialogue that will address the country’s problems.
Drawing comparison from the EU’s own history, Ambassador Cavé stressed the essence of cooperation for the common good. “I’ll go back to where I started. Sixty-nine years ago, we Europeans realized that instead of fighting one another – as we had done for too long, causing incredible suffering – we could have better results in cooperating and working together. It was a success. It led us to build a common space of democracy, rights, freedoms, economy and peace. It also led us to become a global cooperative power and force for peace and prosperity around the world. Of course there have been difficulties, ups and downs, along the way, and we still face challenges today.”
Europe Day on 9 May is the occasion to celebrate peace and unity in Europe. The date marks the anniversary of the Schuman Declaration of 1950, when the French foreign minister Robert Schuman proposed a joint authority to oversee French and German production of coal and steel.
Speaking at the Mamba Point Hotel, Ambassador Cavé said the recent democratic and peaceful handover of power following the 2017 elections and UNMIL’s withdrawal were possible due to the sustained efforts of all Liberians. Nevertheless, she averred there’s still a way to go to consolidate peace and stability, and all Liberians must work in the same direction.
Support for Pro Poor Agenda
Madam Cavé said the EU and its Member States will support the implementation of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change government and align development programs with the PAPD. “We stand ready to support Liberia’s efforts to build a solid and stable economy, as well as to foster an enabling business and investment environment. We will continue to support Liberia’s efforts to protect Human Rights, fight Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, and promote gender equality and women empowerment.”
We, the European Union and its Member States, are deeply committed to continuing to support Liberia’s peace-building and development efforts. These efforts though, cannot succeed in a negatively charged political environment. This is why, as a strong multilateral partner to Liberia, the EU continues to remind all stakeholders of the importance of a constructive dialogue that will address the country’s problems.
Ambassador Hélène Cavé, the Head of European Union delegation in Liberia
The EU Ambassador said the EU is committed to multilateralism and a rules-based international order, thus it is the EU’s collective responsibility to work toward a more peaceful, secure and prosperous world for present and future generations. “The EU is working with partner countries and organizations around the world to prevent conflict, to protect and promote peace, security, human rights, and sustainable development, to invest in clean energy and to combat climate change. Multilateralism is in our nature and DNA, it is in our history. Today’s global challenges can only be tackled with global responses, and international cooperation is more needed today than ever.”
Ambassador Cavé said the EU has consistently taken action to maintain and implement major international agreements, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. “The EU is also contributing to a stronger and more effective multilateral system, because we want to take our part of responsibility for our common home. This is the best investment we could do, and we will continue to support the United Nations and its work. Today the European Union has become an indispensable partner and reference for those all around the world that believe, as we do, that cooperative multilateralism is about our universal values, but also about our collective interests, a matter of global and national security.”
Ambassador Cavé averred that Africa remains a fundamental and long-standing partner of the and embraces positive change happening in many parts of Africa. “We are proud to support and encourage it. Nine of our European Peace Missions are deployed in Africa or off its shores. We have agreed with the African Union to step up our cooperation on peace, security and governance to a new strategic level. We are supporting our African partners as they take greater responsibility for peace and security on their continent.”
Ambassador Cavé said the EU is also working with African partners to better manage migration together, under the principles of solidarity, partnership and shared responsibility, with an integrated approach. “The European Union believes that Africa is a continent of opportunities. We have set up the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, to attract more private investment to Africa and to create the needed jobs.”
The Cotonou Agreement framing the relations between the EU and 79 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) will come to an end in 2020, and a new agreement is currently being negotiated. It will modernize and improve our cooperation, in order to better address our mutual challenges and interests together, in a spirit of true partnership.
Ambassador Cavé who is in her second year as EU Ambassador in Liberia arrived in September 2017, at a very significant time for Liberia’s own journey from conflict to sustained peace and unity. “I feel very privileged to have witnessed Liberia’s first transfer of power from one elected Government to another through a competitive multi-party system. I feel proud of the work of the colleagues of the EU Delegation to formulate, implement and monitor many programs and projects financed by the EU in Liberia.”
The envoy paid tribute to those supporting the National Authorizing Officer, who is the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, for their constant efforts in support EU projects. “In the last year, we signed the ‘Youth Rising’ 20 Million Euros project on Technical and Vocational Education and Training. Liberian youth represent a great opportunity for the future of this country. This project is designed to equip the youth with skills that match labour market demands and help them become entrepreneurs themselves. We also signed two large contracts to bring electricity to 38.000 residents in Montserrado County, and another one to protect wildlife and biodiversity.”
Ambassador Cavé said ongoing projects are in the work to open civil society organizations through a recently-launched calls for proposals (still open for those interested) to support the cocoa and fisheries sectors, or in support for peacebuilding and reconciliation. “The EU values the crucial role played by the civil society in Liberia, and all over Africa,” she said.
Ambassador Cavé said the EU has signed with the UN the Spotlight Initiative, with an initial investment from the EU of 250 million € (around 300 million USD) for Africa.
Liberia is one of the eight African countries to benefit from the program in its first phase. The program will target gender inequality and gender-based violence.
The Envoy is hoping to launch the programme formally in the presence of President Weah soon. “The new EU-UN Spotlight Initiative is going to make a significant investment in Liberia to fight sexual and gender based violence, and harmful traditional practices, working together with the Government, civil society, and traditional and religious leaders.”
The European Union currently has bilateral trade agreements with Liberia on fisheries and forestry, designed to support sustainable management of natural resources. These agreements, the envoy explained, seek to help create jobs and revenue today, but also help ensure that future generations will continue to benefit from Liberia’s abundant forests and water resources tomorrow.
EU Solidly Committed to Liberia
Ambassador Cavé added: “The European Union is a solid, committed and reliable development partner of Liberia. But we are also a strong political partner of this country. In the last year, the European Union and its Member States have held two comprehensive political dialogues, the last one on Monday this week, where we have addressed many different issues, from the state of the economy to human rights. The European Union and its Member States have also maintained a regular dialogue with His Excellency President Weah and other Ministers, and this open and frank dialogue is highly praised from our end.”
Ambassador said the EU Delegation remains grateful to the Embassies of EU Member States in Liberia, France, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, for their valuable work to strengthen the partnership between the European Union and Liberia each day. “I would like to express my deep gratitude and recognition to EU Member States Ambassadors and their staff for their constant support and dedication to the EU project.”
She said the EU supports the excellent work being done by the UN Country Team and ECOWAS and African Union Missions in Liberia and also recognized and congratulated the three Institutions for their constant work in support of Liberia’s peacebuilding and development efforts.