Celebrating Europe Day 2019 in Eritrea
BY NICOLE MILLER
The Delegation of the European Union to the State of Eritrea celebrated this year’s Europe Day in the presence of Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Osman Saleh, and other senior Government officials, diplomats and representatives of local authorities.
On the occasion, Dr. Nicole Miller, Chargé d’Affaires and Acting Head of the EU Delegation, delivered a speech before the distinguished guests. Here are the excerpts:
Another year older – and wiser. This is how we view the EU today, as it turns 62 years old… or young.
The initial call on the nations of Europe to unite in order to make war on our continent impossible still stands. It is for this reason that the EU remains the most successful peace project in recent history. Nevertheless, for the European Union, it is not enough to be the biggest investor in international development cooperation, and to be the world’s biggest humanitarian donor by a wide margin.
Alongside our achievements, the EU always strives to ensure that its fundamental values of respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law are continuously upheld. These values unite all the member states and our collective commitment to them is the driving force of our work worldwide, and the benchmark by which we measure our efficiency, results and credibility.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Horn of Africa is currently undergoing a profound transformation. We are witnessing a new reality, a reality of peace, stability and economic integration in the region, of which Eritrea is at the core. The last months have brought with them a number of positive developments, which in turn is just the beginning of a new era in the Horn of Africa, and beyond.
The July 2018 historic agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia and the rapprochement between Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia offer an unprecedented opportunity, not only for Eritrea, but for Eritrea and its immediate neighbours, as well as for the Region as a whole.
Bringing in its own historical experience of achieving peace and economic integration, the European Union steadfastly supports the regional developments.
Consolidating peace and strengthening economic cooperation can only bring mutual benefit to all the countries of the Horn of Africa and to their people.
The European Union, the World Bank and the African Development Bank have initiated an inclusive process which will lead to a high-level conference in July 2019 (one year after the historic agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia) on promoting economic integration in the Horn of Africa.
The overall goal of this initiative is to agree on a set of specific priority actions, including policy reforms and investment, focusing on three key areas: regional infrastructure, trade and economic integration, and human capital development.
For decades, the European Union has been and remains a longstanding development partner of the African Continent, including Eritrea.
In September 2018, the European Commission’s President Juncker launched the Africa – Europe Alliance for sustainable investment and jobs, which proposes a paradigm shift for the relation between both continents.
At the same time, and in the same spirit, the European Union is re-engaging with Eritrea on jointly agreed priority areas for development cooperation, including infrastructure, job creation, culture and economic governance.
I would like to highlight the recently agreed financial contribution towards the procurement of machinery and equipment for emergency rehabilitation of main arterial roads between the Eritrean/ Ethiopian border and the Port of Massawa.
Through this project, the European Union directly supports the peace process as well as economic development in the country, thus also paving the way for further reforms. The initial 20 million Euro contribution is just the starting point of this re-engagement. We are looking forward to agreeing on various other activities that could start already this year, as well as to discussing with the Government and all relevant stakeholders the medium and longer term priorities, beyond 2020.
At the same time, we shall keep focusing on effective implementation. An example in this regard is the recently completed installation of two standalone mini-grids fed by solar power providing electricity to over 40,000 beneficiaries in the towns of Areza and Maidma and the surrounding villages. This has a strong impact on boosting income generating activities as well as on improved social services such as access to schools for children and youth.
An important branch of the EU’s relationship with Eritrea is the Political Dialogue, held in the framework of Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement. I am pleased to share that, together with the Member States, on the 20th of March of this year; we concluded a very fruitful political dialogue with Eritrea. . .
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The start of 2019 has seen a flurry of activity for Eritrea in the field of Human Rights. Eritrea is now a member of the UN Human Rights Council, no doubt an important responsibility. Eritrea has recently undergone her Third Universal Periodic Review within the Human Rights Council UPR process and has also assumed the Chairmanship of the Khartoum Process. On all these journeys, the EU looks forward to working closely with Eritrea. . . .
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We find ourselves in an uneasy world. Global challenges show no signs of abating. Yet, none of these challenges can be tackled by any single country or region in isolation. Security, peace and prosperity demand a strong international partnership, and that is what the European Union continues working towards.
As any other political entity, the European Union is a living project, adapting to and taking on new challenges with each passing year. We are determined that our project should continue to be a force for good in the world, and look forward to working with all our partners to this end.
I thank you for your attention, and I would like to propose a toast to the Government and the people of Eritrea!