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By Pita Ligaiula in Nairobi, Kenya
As the Cotonou Partnership Agreement runs towards its completion, it is clear that the ACP-European Union is ripe for the next level of engagement, deputy President of Kenya, Dr William Rotu said.
Speaking at the 110th session of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Council of Ministers meeting themed “A Transformed ACP Committed to Multilateralism”, Dr Rotu said negotiations should place the interest of grouping first.
“I therefore urge the Council and every other institution taking part in the negotiations to place the interests of the ACP Group foremost even as we perfect fraternal coexistence as a Group.
“As a Group we have been able to march forward and help to shape an ACP that we want. By use of our numbers, we make a big force towards fully integrating ourselves into the global system.
The spirit of the South-South Cooperation can help re-live our original goal of growth and development through solidarity and cooperation,” the deputy President said.
ACP Secretary General, Patrick Gomes said the grouping are now approaching the conclusion of the 20th year of the Cotonou Agreement in February 2020.
“The successor agreement with Europe is situated in an era of geopolitical re-alignments of a turbulent 21st century. The new agreement must also take account of internal changes in the ACP Group, so admirably championed by several member states, to critically engage and elevate the long standing and tested partnership with Europe now threatened by a drift to fragmentation and the rise of reactionary populism.
Adoption of the negotiating mandate for negotiations of a new ACP- EU partnership Agreement at the Lome Council and the successful outcome of negotiations, with compromises that ensure mutual benefits for our members’ states and the EU, offer reasonable hope for a great future for this Organisation of ACP,” Dr Gomes said.
Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister and Chair of the ACP Council of Ministers, Patrick Pruaitch said the 110th Session of the Council of Ministers is taking place at an interesting period of its 45 years of existence.
“We are about to conclude the negotiations on the post Cotonou Agreement. Multilateralism is being threatened.
“The relationship we have shared with the European Union for nearly forty-five years, based on the three pillars of trade and economic cooperation, development finance cooperation and political dialogue must be transformed to respond to the current socio-economic and political global reality. One year after launching the negotiations for a new ACP-EU Partnership, the shape of the future Agreement is becoming clearer by the day.
“We are happy that strategic priorities of the new Partnership have been defined. At the same time talks on the regional protocols are intensifying. But more needs to be done, before the Agreement is concluded. But we are confident, our negotiating team is equal to the task.
“Our countries stand on the brink of a new era fraught with challenges and opportunities. We are called on to make this great leap and play our role into the new emerging world,” he said.
Pruaitch said the task before them is not an easy one and will require vision and political will.
“This is our future. A future whose foundation is cast in 44 years of holding on together as a Group, deriving strength in our solidarity and unity as well as our diversity.
Pruaitch said the Heads of State and Governments will be meeting from 09 – 10 December to build on the commitments made during previous Summits and reiterate the determination to create the necessary conditions to transform ACP Group into an influential actor in global economic and political governance.
“We are optimistic that a new dawn is breaking and that peace, stability, good economic governance as well as sustainable development will help us achieve the goals set out in the Georgetown Agreement and those which we have set for ourselves, namely, eradication of poverty and disease, and economic powerlessness. As we do so, we draw strength from the founding fathers of the ACP Group whose achievements we consider with pride. May we all be inspired to face the future with renewed vigour, loyalty and dedication to our Group.
“It is only with our collective dedication and resolve that we will realise our vision of a stronger ACP Group. We need to exert our collective efforts in all our undertakings to uplift the lives of people in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific as a whole. We should stay focused on our objectives and overcome obstacles and delays to achieve goals and targets that we have set for ourselves and take action without delay in areas where our Heads of State and Government have given us firm directions.
“The time has come to turn rhetoric into action, intent into enterprise. The time has come to take action commensurate with the size of our ambition, that is, to make our Group the leading multilateral group of developing countries organisation,” said Pruaitch.
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