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Statement by the ACP Secretary General at the Opening Session 99th session of the ACP Council of Ministers, 17 June 2014, Nairobi

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Honourable Dr Abdallah OMARI KIGODA, Minister for Industry and Trade of the Republic of Tanzania of the United Republic of Tanzania and

President of the ACP Council of Ministers; Honourable Ministers,

Your Honourable Adan Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development, Government of Kenya,  

Excellencies ACP Ambassadors and High-Commissioners accredited to Brussels and Kenya,

Distinguished invited guests, Ladies and gentlemen,

I thank you for the honour and privilege to address this distinguished gathering.

 

Hon. Cabinet Secretary,

On behalf of the ACP Secretariat and indeed on my personal behalf, I wish to express our gratitude to you and your Government and the people of Kenya for your hospitality and the facilities that have been put at our disposal for the efficient conduct of these meetings.

I would like to assure you that together with the host country authorities, we have done our utmost to ensure the best conditions for your comfort and convenience because we are all desirous to have successful outcomes from these meetings.

Allow me to state that holding these meetings here in Kenya is an opportunity for us to exemplify and demonstrate the values of ACP cooperation and solidarity as well as principles of partnership between the ACP and the EU. We have been witness to the tremendous sacrifice that Kenya has made to fight terrorism and restore peace and stability in Somalia. This is now being fought within Kenya’s own borders as well.

Given the recent terrorist incidences that have taken place in this country, ACP and EU Representatives have not resiled from the values and principles that govern our partnership.

Our presence here is therefore a demonstration of solidarity and faith in the strength and resilience of the Kenyan people and their Government to withstand and overcome these terrorist threats. 

 

Hon. Cabinet Secretary,

This Session of the ACP Council will give us an opportunity once again to critically examine some of the development challenges facing ACP states and the ACP-EU partnership. Even as we meet, there are ominous undercurrents in Europe following the last European Parliament elections, which were held against a backdrop of profound and critical debate about the future direction of European integration.

We cannot remain immune to these debates, premised as they are, on the need to reshape the character, norms and policy orientation of the European Union. In an ever diminishing space of international relations, the social, political and economic fortunes of all countries are inextricably linked to each other- ours with those of the EU and vice-versa. I wish to submit that we do not need to be unduly concerned about such issues, only that our engagements with our European partners need to take into account some of these extremist and populist sentiments among some political leaders in Europe.

 

Hon. Cabinet Secretary,

Your meeting will be required to take some critical decisions and provide specific guidance to the Committee of Ambassadors and the ACP Secretariat on a number of important issues. One of the critical issues on which you will have occasion to pronounce yourselves, concerns the Future of the ACP Group. The Eminent Persons Group on the Future of the ACP Group as well as a dedicated Ambassadorial working group have been considering a wide range of issues that will address the future challenges and opportunities for the Group.

These discussions on the future of the Group are premised on the need to revitalize, recalibrate and reposition the ACP Group so that we can enhance our role as a unique group of south-south collaboration that steers our vision to deepen our level of cooperation with the EU and branch out into relations with other international partners. This includes, but not exclusively, questions as to what should happen to the Group, or what form the Group should take after the expiry of the Cotonou Agreement in 2020.

However, whatever form the ACP Group takes, there is consensus that change is inevitable and that things cannot continue as before, given the evolution of international political and economic relations, as well as changes to the size, composition, values and policy orientations within our principle partner – the EU. Discussions in the Working Group on the Future Perspectives of the ACP Group and the Eminent Persons Group have therefore been concentrated on the strategic transformation of the ACP Group – strategically, functionally and in terms of its legal status.

 

Hon. Cabinet Secretary,

Your meetings will consider proposals and recommendations concerning specific cooperation mechanisms and instruments of the ACP-EU Partnership, in the areas of Economic Partnership Agreements, commodities such as bananas, sugar and cotton. I am glad to say that you will also be appraised of the state of play of the programming process for the 11th EDF.

I am pleased to note that in the course of the meetings, we shall have occasion to witness the signing of National Indicative Programmes (NIP) between the European Commission and 11 ACP States. In my view, the NIP process is the best expression of the consultative and collaborative identification of needs and priorities for funding within the EDF framework. 

There are also some issues that reflect the progress that, together with our EU partners, we have made in addressing issues of common concern, such as the dialogue on migration and development and the post-2015 development agenda, as well as a joint ACP-EU cooperation framework on private sector development, to mention but a few.

Your meeting will also have to consider what has become an intractable issue between the ACP Group and the European Commission, that of the future of the Center for the Development of Enterprise (CDE).

 

Hon. Cabinet Secretary,

Allow me to submit that all your decisions and deliberations should be permeated with the ultimate objective of attaining sustainable development and poverty eradication in our countries. I am convinced that national development processes and international cooperation must be focused on the instruments and forms of governance that will radically change how governments and the international community have conducted development work in the past.

ACP States must have effective representation and participation in the establishment of global economic and development policy. Various ACP eminent personalities have already stated that our countries individually, and the ACP Group as a collective, need to take their rightful place in the discourse of development and not abdicate our mandate and responsibilities to other entities.

I am pleased to say that in the time that I have been Secretary-General of our Group, I have been witness to the renewed determination on the part of our political leadership and senior officials in our respective countries to assert the interests of our peoples.

As I have alluded to already, this assertiveness is most evident in the NIP process. It has also been evident in the negotiations, if I may use that word, for the Joint ACP-EU Declarations on the post-2015 development agenda and the Third International Conference on Small Island States.

This view only highlights the point that in other areas as well, ranging from trade and aid to human security, we need the best forms of collaboration and institutional governance in order to establish collective goods for the benefit of our peoples; to develop the best quality of life in our countries; to empower people, create job opportunities and thriving knowledge economies; and thus establish inclusive societies in which every able and willing individual can realize his or her legitimate aspirations.

 

Hon. Cabinet Secretary,

I believe that ACP states and the Group can do all this with enough political will and determination from our leadership. But we cannot do it alone. We need to forge effective partnerships and alliances with other countries and entities guided by mutual trust and respect, and in recognition of mutual benefits and threats. I believe that the protracted negotiations for the Doha round and the EPAs were due to lack of mutual accommodation, largely on the part of developed countries in their failure or unwillingness to appreciate the vulnerabilities and special needs of less developed countries.

We endeavour to work on the basis of a better approach than this, and it is my fervent hope that the Joint ACP-EU Council of Ministers will be conducted in this spirit.

 

Hon. Cabinet Secretary,

As I end, I would like to assure you that as a Secretariat, we shall endeavour serve you better, to lead a Secretariat that can promote the interests of ACP States and Regions, and to be a more instrumental and dynamic collaborator for the Group in shaping and defining the programmers, projects and actions and all other desirable outcomes aimed at giving effect to the organization’s aims and objectives.

The Secretariat has therefore, alongside the reflection in the ACP Committee of Ambassadors on the future perspectives of the ACP Group, also embarked on some serious examination in the Secretariat about how we can contribute to this process. I believe that the ACP Group has served us well for almost 40 years, and it is my view that a repositioned, revitalised and recalibrated Group could be a veritable vehicle for promoting its objectives vis-à-vis the European Union as well as other countries and international organisations for many years to come.

This was the thinking for the elaboration of the Secretariat’s main strategy document “Renewal and Transformation” for the period 2011—2014 whose focus is mainly on restructuring of the Secretariat and enhancement of our internal processes. The current plan aims to go further by assisting the governing organs to reposition the ACP Group as an actor in the global arena while reinventing the Secretariat as a learning organisation and implementing agency.

I thank you for your kind attention and wish you success in your meetings.

 

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