The committee of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation in collaboration with the first session of the fifth parliament of the second Republic of Sierra Leone has held a one-day symposium at the Ministry’s conference hall in Freetown. The event which is to showcase the existing bilateral relationship between Sierra Leone and the European Union on the reformation of their partnership.
In his opening remarks, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Alie Kaaba expressed his deepest gratitude to the chairman and members of the committee on behalf of the Ministry for convening the symposium as he described the Ministry as the ‘institution responsible for the conduct of Sierra Leone’s Foreign Relations and International Cooperation’. He further stated that the Ministry considers this event as a ‘significant milestone in spotlighting the valued partnership with the European Union’. He further thanked the European Union for the good work they have been doing in Sierra Leone; the EU’s relentless effort and commitment in promoting & supporting inclusive democratic governance. As a Minister, Dr. Alie Kaaba vowed to deepen the relationship between the European Union & Sierra Leone based on equality & shared interest. He also dilated on the area of equal footing since Sierra Leone would not always be on the receiving end but would sit side-by-side with the EU at the decision making table.
Dr. Kabba also explained the need for European Union to keep its markets open in relocating some of its labor intensive business to African Countries. Equally so, the European Union can further help by giving a privileged access to African goods in the European markets as in the case of goods coming in from Asia. He concluded that this is what the new direction of his excellency President Julius Maada Bio wants in transforming our beloved country, working together, Sierra Leone has the edge to promote, project, and protect its national interest, and will be able to pursue mutually beneficial foreign policy programs enshrined in chapter 11, Section 10 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone and the principles of the New Direction.
The European Union Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the EU to Sierra Leone, Tom Vens delved on the need for a partnership framework which sets an agenda for Democratization and Human Rights in working towards a sustainable future. Ambassador Vens pointed out the need for Sierra Leone to strengthen Democracy & Human Rights, which he pictured as an agenda to make sure the Government of Sierra Leone work to meet International standards and also to see that there is an increased emphasis to protect the rights of children and persons with disabilities. He also mentioned Education, Agriculture, Strategic Investments and job creation as core values. He emphasized on the need for equity and quality education. He further specified four core agendas, ranging from; developing Strategic Investment and Job Creation; Investment in Education; creating suitable Business Environment; and Economic Integration. Ambassador Vens expressed profound appreciation for the invitation and the opportunity for dialogue and openness, and stated he will continue to see Parliament as a key pillar of Government.
Following the event, the Development Secretary, Peter Nuyuba Sam-Kpaka on behalf of the Honorable Minister of Economic Planning and Development in his statement, underscored the International Development & Partnership as Sierra Leoneans are still striving towards the goal of attaining a sustainable carbon-free & inclusive middle-income status by 2030. He further explained that for every partnership to succeed, there must be mutual respect, laws and regulations that govern it, and in that capacity, the ministry of Planning & Economic Development has developed a Development Cooperation Framework (DCF) which surrounds & defines the overall partnership. And these DCF is anchored on country ownership, alignment with country priorities, use of country systems, adequate and timely information on aid, mutual accountability, NGO monitoring and Coordination for Accountability these and many more outlined b Minister.
Present at the ceremony were; the EU Delegates; the Chairman Committee of Foreign Affairs in Parliament, Honorable Kandeh Yumkella; Honorable members of the committee; Director Europe Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Dennis Nicole.