37th ACP –EU Joint Council Session opens
In a unique alliance over 300 distinguished delegates from Developed, Developing and Least Developed Countries under the 80-member African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group and 27 members of European Union (EU) gathered for the opening of the 37th Session of the ACP-EU Joint Council opening at Independence Park, Port Vila midday yesterday.
Prime Minister of Vanuatu Sato Kilman delivered a fitting welcome, hailing the combination of three classes of countries in the partnership making the alliance unique.
“It is indeed a historical moment for this nation and the people of the Republic of Vanuatu to warmly welcome all delegates from the great continent of Africa, the great nations within the European Union and the nations of the Caribbean and our neighbouring Pacific Islands. You have crossed continents and vast oceans to reach our land. And for this, my nation is deeply honoured to welcome you all to our shores,” he said. >>To Page 3
“I speak to you today, not only as the Prime Minister of this nation, but as a proud citizen of Vanuatu and a fellow citizen of the alliance of the ACP-EU. The ACP-EU is a strong and vibrant trans-regional intergovernmental partnership that began more than three decades ago.”
He acknowledged the partnership through the ACP-EU cooperation framework has also given rise to new challenges which need to be collectively addressed to ensure continuity and mutual confidence in the entire process of the partnership framework.
“This important meeting here in Port Vila brings to the Oceania region the timely opportunity for the Pacific nations to fully and constructively contribute to the discussions and reflect on the future perspective of the ACP and its engagement with the EU,” he said.
“It is at this juncture, that I would like to stress that the Joint ACP-EU Ministerial should strongly take heed of the repeated calls by the Pacific Leaders for the Commission to ensure that immediate necessary steps is taken to allow for meaningful engagement with the Pacific ACP region, in order to conclude negotiations on a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) by 2012.
“Experiences have shown that membership with numerous multilateral and plurilateral organisations is often plagued with highly bureaucratic procedures with impractical datelines, making access to funds and implementation programs difficult and strenuous given the limited absorption capacities of many countries.
“My friends, we must reach an understanding concerning the disbursement of resources allocated to tradable commodities such as Banana, Sugar, Cotton or Kava. The allocated resources should not be forfeited in the event that certain countries encounter delays in their multi-Support Programme. These administrative challenges have often overpowered our good intentions to ensure that projects achieve their targets in inspiring prosperity in the forgotten corners of continents and islands. Our citizens yearn for lives marked by dignity, opportunity and recognition.
“And the rules of the game of this partnership between the ACP-EU must not deny the disadvantaged citizens the opportunity they need to hope for a benefit. It is now high time to find a mutual solution and solidify our hope for a solution to these is issues.”
Prime minister Kilman said there are voices deriding and denying the importance of the alliance between the ACP-EU as one which is fostering increasing dependence.
He said it is common knowledge and we strongly maintain that this alliance does not foster dependence, rather it is a movement which encourages increasing interdependence between big and small, the wealthy and the not so wealthy.
“We are collectively bearing new burdens and taking responsibility in many forgotten parts of continents and islands. This is an important North-South Cooperation.
“The burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. This partnership and Cooperation is not a choice, but the only way to achieve the shared objective which had guided this relationship more than three decades ago. In this century the Europeans and the Africans, Caribbean and the Pacific nations must be required to do more and never allow the issues to divide us,” he concluded before the President of the ACP-Group of States and President of the European Union delivered their official statements to mark the opening of the two days 37th ACP-EU Joint Council Session.
The official opening yesterday saw young students with waving flags welcoming the delegates at the Independence Park route right up to the grand stand and also featured cultural performances entitled, “Cultural Diversities” from Vanuatu’s six provinces.