JOINT PRESS COMMUNIQUÉ
Second Session of the Liberia-EU Political Dialogue
The Government of the Republic of Liberia and the European Union met on 17th February 2014 to renew and deepen their political dialogue. This meeting bordered on five thematic areas including, International and Regional Agenda, Good Governance and Democracy, Peace and Security, Biodiversity and Conservation, and Economic Cooperation and Trade.
The Dialogue was in fulfilment of Article 8 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement which calls for signatory Parties to regularly engage in a comprehensive, balanced and deep political engagement leading to commitments on both sides. The Second Dialogue built on discussions held during the Inaugural Dialogue convened in November 2012, following the formal launch of this initiative in June 2012.
The Liberian Delegation to the Dialogue was led by His Excellency Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, Minister of Foreign Affairs while His Excellency Ambassador Attilio Pacifici, Head of the European Delegation to Liberia led the European side. Other members of the Liberian delegation included Hon. Amara Konneh, Minister of Finance, Hon. Wheatonia Dixon Barnes, Acting Minister of Justice, Hon. Florence Chenoweth, Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Axel M. Addy, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Hon. Eugene Nagbe, Minister of Youth and Sports, Hon. Morris M. Dukuly, Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon. Amos Cladius Sawyer, Chairman, Governance Commission, Hon. Jerome G. Korkoya, Chairman, National Elections Commission and a host of senior Government officials, including Hon. B. Elias Shoniyin, Deputy Foreign Minister for International Economic Cooperation and Integration.
Meanwhile, members of the European Union Delegation comprised H. E. Joël Godeau, Ambassador of France, H. E. Ralph Timmermann, Ambassador of Germany, H.E. Fernando Moran, Ambassador of Spain, H. E. Sofia Strand, Ambassador of Sweden, H. E. Fergus Cochrane-Dyet, Ambassador of the United Kingdom, Ms. Sandrine Platteau, first Secretary of the Embassy of Belgium resident in Abidjan, Paula Molloy, Representative of the Embassy of Ireland in Freetown, Belen Calvo Uyarra, Counselor, EU Delegation to Liberia and Juan Criado Clemente, First Secretary, Embassy of Spain.
During discussions on International and regional issues, the EU welcomed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s vigorous leadership in forging a joint African Common Position on the Post 2015 Development Agenda. Both parties noted the commonalities of the EU and Africa positions and expressed their anticipation for the issuance of a joint declaration on the matter during the EU Africa Summit in April. The EU lauded the contribution of Liberia for the deployment of a military team to join the United Nations Multi-dimensional Integrated Mission in Mali and the request to expand the Liberian forces to a company size, as that country transitions to democratic governance.
In the area of Good Governance and Democracy, the EU side encouraged the Government of Liberia to take all necessary actions to ensure a successful conduct of the impending Senatorial elections imperative for deepening Liberia’s democratization and deepening confidence in the results. Meanwhile, the Liberian Side assured the EU that the Government of Liberia will forge cooperation with partners including EU, to provide the National Elections Commission, the necessary support for the smooth conduct of the 2014 by-elections and has proposed the establishment of an election basket fund in preparation for the 2017 electoral process.
In the meantime, the Liberian Side pledged Government’s commitment to continue the fight against corruption, build public confidence in the governance system, especially, with prosecution of indicted officials, as deterrent of corruption.
In this respect, the EU welcomed Government’s efforts and encouraged the Government to empower the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission with prosecutorial power, and asserted EU’s continuous support to reorganize the General Auditing Commission. The EU welcomed the adoption of the first National Human Rights Action Plan in Liberia, and urged Government to implement the plan.
Both parties stressed the importance of freedom of expression and the need to review the libel laws, and expressed the valuable role of Civil Society in Liberia in this regard. The EU praised the Government of Liberia for creating an enabling environment where Civil Society can play key role in delivering public goods for societal development, and the enhancement of democratic governance.
Liberia and the EU agreed on the need to develop Liberia's rich natural resources in an appropriated governance framework to protect national interest, and at the same time continue to create a favourable environment for investment, to foster growth, development and the sustenance of peace. Both parties recognized the significant gains made as the people of Liberia celebrated Ten years of uninterrupted peace in 2013. Within this sphere, the EU affirmed its commitment to continuing its support to the sustenance of peace and the promotion of inclusive development, job creation for the youths, improved social service delivery and good governance.
During deliberation on Peace and Security the two sides stressed the importance of strengthening the security sector, especially, the Liberian National Police and the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, in the wake of UNMIL’s drawdown.
On Biodiversity and Conservation, bothparties recognised that the good management of natural resources requires its conservation for future generations, and urged Government’s action, with Legislative approval for National Wildlife Conservation and the Management of Protected areas in Liberia, including the Gola National Park.
On the Session to enhance the EU-Liberia partnership,the Government of Liberia called on the EU to consider the issuance of Schengen visa in Liberia, as it would alleviate the difficulties confronted by Liberians wanting to travel to Europe. The Liberian side stressed important gains that may potentially come from the issuance of Schengen visas in Liberia, include regular exchanges between officials from Monrovia and capitals of EU countries. The EU promised to convey this request to their respective headquarters.
The EU and Liberians sides pledged to remain constructively engaged to further strengthening their partnership and to continuously cooperate to address development challenges confronting the both peoples. Both parties called on the Legislature to consider a timely ratification of the revised 2010 Cotonou Agreement.
The Dialogue was held in a constructive and open atmosphere which provided a good opportunity for a positive, frank and mutually beneficial exchange of views. At the end of the Dialogue, both parties reviewed commitments made and agreed to conduct the next Dialogue in May 2014, after the two sides shall have agreed on topics for discussions. The parties agreed to meet regularly and confirm an agenda and calendar for two subsequent meetings in 2014 following the May deliberations.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Monrovia
February 17, 2014