11th EU-Liberia Partnership Dialogue
We meet again for the 11th edition of our annual Dialogue between the European Union, its Member States and the Government of
Liberia. I want to thank you, Minister, and your team at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including Deputy Minister Dewey Gray, Assistant Minister Edwin Juah and Professor Martin Scott, for having organized this annual reunion in a record short time. I want to thank also all representatives of the Government of Liberia here present. And thank you for the warm hospitality you extended last week to the Swedish Minister of Cooperation and Trade Mr Johann Forsell.
This event which we uses to callPolitical Dialogue, has been renamed Partnership Dialogue, to reflect the evolution in the legal framework of our political and development co-operation, with the move to what we call the “post-Cotonou” era. Jeroen Witkamp, the Head of the Cooperation at the EU Delegation will detail how we intend, despite this changing legal framework, to ensure that we keep the good methods we have implemented up to now with the Ministry of Finance and Development planning and all our Government partners in terms of consultation, information and coordination. In my opening statement of our 10th Dialogue last year, on the 20th of May 2022, I commented on how truly strategic the relation between the EU and Liberia had become. I mentioned two particular factors for that. The first was our joint condemnation of the unprovoked, unwarranted and illegal war of aggression of Russia against Ukraine. The second was the mining development projects of Arcelor-Mittal in Liberia to feed the future decarbonated steel industry in Europe. One year later, I can only rejoice at how the former has developed across all multilateral fora, while regretting the absence of progress on the latter.
Today, we will discuss seven topics.
First, the upcoming October elections in Liberia. The EU, through the Chargé d’Affaires of Ireland, will express its confidence that the elections can and will be organized to be peaceful, free, fair, transparent, inclusive and credible. The EU will call on all stakeholders to respect one another, to campaign in peace and to respect the results of the elections. We are confident that the people of Liberia will choose freely their leaders. We hope that those leaders will put the interests of the people before their own and enforce the basic principle of democracy, which is that politics is the most noble occupation when its first goal is to help and serve the people, not to help and serve oneself first.
Second, we will address, as I mentioned, the issue of our bilateral cooperation with Liberia. The EU and its Member States stand ready to support the future development strategy of the Government of Liberia that will result from the elections, just as we have been fervent supporters of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development.
Third, we will discuss the Human Rights situation in Liberia, with the Swedish ambassador speaking on the EU’s behalf. We feel that this situation is good in general and we will discuss specific matters such as Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, Female Genital Mutilation or the abolition of the Death Penalty. We will raise the issue of impunity, since recent cases, around drug smuggling or the logging activities of the Renaissance group, raise questions on the integrity of some aspects of the functioning of the Liberian State and justice system.
Fourth, the French Ambassador will develop issues around Foreign Policy cooperation on regional and multilateral issues. I already mentioned the Russian war on Ukraine, and Liberia has also been very active on the security situation in the Sahel and the political transitions in West Africa. I cannot but quote again the message of leadership and wisdom of his Excellency, President George Manneh Weah, last year in Congress, that “Liberia will remain a pillar of democracy on the African continent, availing its willingness to remain a part of the global coalition in defence of democracy in the world”. I commend the leadership of Liberia in contributing to defend and restore peace, security, stability, democracy, and constitutional order, through ECOWAS, in your Sister Republics Guinea, Mali, and now Burkina Faso. The European Union and its Member States stand at your side in this endeavour.
Fifth, we will discuss business and investment climate. We feel that Liberia can and should make better use of its vast natural resources and of the skills, ingenuity and dedication of its wonderful people. Europe and its companies are determined to contribute to the development of the private sector of the Liberian economy.
We will address two more issues around passports and visas, at the request of the Liberian government, in order to facilitate the access of Liberians and their officials to the European territory.
As you see, we have a lot on our plate for today, and we will be happy to debrief the media at the end of our Dialogue on the progress we have made this morning.
I thank you./.