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EU-Liberia partnership:‘Strong, Significant and Reliant Pillar’

Foreign Minister Marjon Kamara has branded the European Union (EU) – Liberia partnership as “a strong, significant and reliant pillar” in the country’s development framework. “For us Liberians, the benefits from this partnership are immeasurable. They cut across almost every facet of our society,” she stressed.

A Foreign Ministry release said, Ms. Kamara made the comments at the opening of the 4th EU-Liberia Political Dialogue held at the C. Cecil Dennis, Jr. Auditorium on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. The dialogue, held under the theme: “Conditions for Peace and Economic Growth,” was led by Foreign Minister Kamara with the participation of several ministries and agencies of government including the Ministries of Finance and Development Planning, Defense, Justice, Health, Agriculture and Commerce and Industry.

Others are from the National Elections Commission, Forestry Development Authority, Environmental Protection Agency, the Liberia Refugee, Repatriation and Resettlement Commission and the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization.

The Head of the European Delegation, Ambassador Tiina Intelmann led the European Union’s delegation that included the Ambassadors of Germany, France, Sweden; the Charge d’Affaires / Deputy Head of Sahel and West Africa Team and the Political Counselor of the EU Delegation.

Foreign Minister Kamara pointed out that the EU, which continues to be the largest provider of support to the national budget, has confirmed an additional amount of US$34 million in grant funding as part of its ongoing budget support program for 2016.

Highlighting other EU notable interventions in Liberia in recent times, she named the inauguration of the project for maintenance of the Bo-Waterside road over the next five years on May 10, with funding from the EU and the United Kingdom; the launch of the “B” Certificate Teacher Training Program for junior high school teachers at the Kakata Rural Teachers Training Institute on April 15, by the Liberian Government and the EU; and the dedication of the Gbarnga – Ganta-Guinea border road on March 7, fully funded by the EU.

Other projects the Liberian Foreign Minister stressed were the groundbreaking ceremonies for two new “County Service Centers” in Bomi and Rivercess Counties respectively, on March 3, marking the EU’s continued support for the decentralization process, a program to which the EU is currently providing €4.5 million (euros) through the UNDP; the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the political parties and the National Elections Commission on February 19, facilitated by EU support; as well as providing support to the Inter-Parliamentary Consultative Committee of the ACP to the tune of US$11 million.

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Also, the EU and the Government of Liberia signed two financing agreements for projects totaling nearly US$64 million in key sectors of electricity and institutional capacity building in aid management on February 8; the provision of funding by the EU for four international experts to help boost the capacity of the Bureau of Electricity and Renewable Energy at the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy.

Moreover, she indicated that the EU has included Liberia in the broad plan for completing the West Africa Corridor by making available funds for the Sanniquellie-Danane highway connecting Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire; noting government’s plan to transform Ganta into a dry port serving three countries – Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and Liberia.

Foreign Minister Kamara expressed her pleasure that the programs supported by the EU are consistent with the National Indicative Program for Liberia under the 11th European Development Fund valued at €279 million (euros). “The program supports priority sectors in Liberia’s development effort, such as: good governance, infrastructure, education, energy and agriculture,” she noted.

She again indicated that government remains grateful to the EU and the international community for its enormous contribution towards combating the Ebola virus as they have now begun to put in place a system that would effectively address any resurgence of the virus.

Foreign Minister Kamara highlighted the challenges ahead as UNMIL transitions the security to the Government of Liberia as well as upcoming 2017 presidential and legislative elections. “We are fully aware that this process will certainly be a litmus test to our thriving democracy and consolidated peace,” she said, adding, “We look forward to the EU’s continued support as we surmount these challenges.”

For her part, the Head of the European Delegation, Ambassador Tiina Intelmann thanked Minister Kamara for highlighting all that the EU is doing in Liberia in terms of development and reminding her that all that the European Delegation is doing is on behalf of the 28 Member States and complemented by their own bilateral programs.

She indicated that the EU is a political partner to Liberia enjoying extremely good relations but in line with Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement EU and Liberia must engage regularly and exchange information, foster mutual understand and facilitate the establishment of agreed priorities and shared agenda leading to commitments on both sides.

The 4th EU-Liberia Political Dialogue focuses on political and security matters, including the UN Mission transition, counter-terrorism, upcoming elections –lessons learnt and the way forward, rule of law and human rights issues.

The Dialogue also centers on the economic situation in the country including the 2016/2017 proposed national budget, bilateral trade issues, investment potential, development cooperation issues including the Sustainable Development Goals, Agenda for Transformation, Liberia’s accession to the World Trade Organization, issuance of Schengen Visas here in Liberia, among others.-Press release

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