|President Koroma calls on ACP-EU countries to do more|
By State House Communication Unit
President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma on Wednesday February 22, 2017, officially opened the 13th Regional meeting (West Africa) of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) at the Radisson Blu Conference Centre, Aberdeen in Freetown.
Speaking during the opening session, the president called on the meeting to do more in promoting democratic processes through dialogue and consultations and in facilitating greater understanding between the peoples of the EU and the ACP states. “We must continue to raise public awareness of development issues, and adopt resolutions and recommendations to the Council of Ministers with a view to achieving the objectives of the Agreement,” he urged.
The significance of the 13th regional meeting, according to President Koroma, is to provide a platform for engagement among all the esteemed Parliamentarians of Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific islands and Europe to discuss issues of mutual interest; saying “and I have no doubt that participants will indulge in robust dialogue and reflection on all issues of interest to all ACP/EU countries.” Among these issues are regional integration and cooperation; peace and security; challenges of irregular migration, and the Ebola recovery process.
The president also noted that Sierra Leone’s recognition as a destination for the meeting would only continue to promote and strengthen the country’s relationship with the EU as well as South-South Cooperation. He added that the ACP-EU Secretariat made no mistake in convening this year’s JPA meeting in Freetown.
Taking Sierra Leone as an example, President Koroma said the EU has aligned its cooperation programme with the Government’s own strategy and an increasing share of its financial support is channeled through country systems such as budget support. “It is therefore worthy to note that the National Indicative Programme, jointly developed with my Government and managed by the European Commission, greatly supports our development programmes,” he stated, and pointed out that “the 2014-2020 bilateral funding to Sierra Leone under the 11th European Development Fund follows priorities that have jointly been agreed upon with my government; clearly aligning with our national development strategy – the “Agenda for Prosperity””. He went on to note that the cooperation between the European Union and the Government of Sierra Leone has a long history, stretching over 35 years, and has been guided by the principles and objectives of the successive ACP-EU Conventions and Partnership Agreement.
Speaker of the House of Parliament, the Right Hon. Sheku Bashiru Badara Dumbuya in his welcome statement said the meeting reminds them of the need for collaboration and cooperation among ACP-EU countries.
Co-President of the ACP, Hon. Netty Baldeh, commended the Government of President Koroma for transforming the country with particular emphasis on infrastructure. He also thanked him for announcing a date for the general elections already scheduled for March 7, 2018. He spoke on wide range of issues affecting Africa and the world including terrorism, illegal migration, poverty, corruption which, he said, are concerns of the ACP-EU JPA.
In the same vein, the Co-President of the EU, Michel Rivasi (MEP), expressed delight for holding the JPA meeting here in Sierra Leone. She highlighted high risk of security situation in the world, terrorism, rebellion, piracy, human and drug trafficking around the globe as serious concerns. She also talked on the need for sustainable exploitation of natural resources, need to direct efforts in productive agriculture as against subsistent farming for sustainable growth. The EU Co-President profoundly thanked President Koroma for his personal involvement in the fight against what many around the world described as the ‘horrific Ebola disease’.
The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly was created to bring together the elected representatives of the European Union (the Members of the European Parliament) and the elected representatives of the African, Caribbean and Pacific states that are signatories to the Cotonou Agreement.
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