A NEW ERA IN OACPS-EU COOPERATION: THE INITIALLING OF THE NEW PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT
The initialling of the new partnership Agreement between the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States and the European Union took place at the EU premises in Brussel, Belgium on 15 April, 2021.
The Hon. Robert Dussey, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Togo and Ms Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships both initialled the text on behalf of the OACPS and the EU respectively. The Hon. Thuli Dladla, Foreign Minister of E-Swatini spoke on behalf of Africa, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith for the Caribbean, and Ambassador Fatumanava III Dr Pa’olelei Luteru on behalf of the Pacific region. The initialling ceremony signalled the formal conclusion of negotiations between the Parties that begun in October, 2018. The initialled text will now be translated into the 24 official languages of the EU.
In his statement on behalf of the Samoan Prime Minister, Ambassador Luteru expressed the hope that the new Agreement “will play a catalytic and pivotal role in our collective journey to prosperity, peace and a safe planet for all to live and flourish and where no one is left behind.” He went on to call for immediate engagement between the Parties to ensure clarity around the implementation modalities and where possible to “reset priorities based on existing challenges and realities”, brought about by the covid-19 pandemic. The focus on leaving no one behind and assisting the vulnerable received special mention.
On the Pacific-EU Protocol, Ambassador Luteru expressed satisfaction with the agreed texts noting that the language was “flexible enough in its construction to take on board any long-term issue or priority that may arise during the life of the new Agreement.” He further acknowledged the fact that the priorities as articulated by Pacific Leaders constituted the core pillars of the Pacific-EU regional protocol.
Ambassador Luteru concluded his remarks by congratulating the negotiators on both sides for their commitment and hard work before calling on both the EU and the OACPS to begin engagement on preparations for the signing ceremony to take place in Apia, Samoa towards the end of 2021.
Prime Minister’s intervention at the Initialing Ceremony for the new Partnership Agreement, on behalf of the Pacific region delivered by Ambassador Fatumanava Dr Pa’olelei Luteru. 15 April 2021, Brussels
Thank you for the opportunity to deliver this statement on behalf of my Prime Minister, Hon Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Aiono Dr Sailele Malielegaoi, who is unfortunately not able to join you today due to unavoidable circumstances. However, he sends his best wishes for a successful initialing ceremony.
Today marks another important step in our collective efforts to fashion and agree a practical and people-centred partnership agreement to govern our relations for the next 20 years. I therefore wish, on behalf of the Pacific region, to commend and congratulate our chief negotiators, Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen and Minister Dussey, for their leadership and commitment in guiding us to where we are today – at this initialing ceremony. It has been a long and demanding road, but this is to be expected of negotiations of this nature. The Pacific region also salutes all our technical negotiators on both sides for your hard work, dedication and commitment to our negotiations over the last 28 months.
The impact of the COVID crisis has presented us with new challenges, not only in our work methods, but it has also highlighted the critical need for us all to work together to address and overcome common challenges. I am hopeful that the new Agreement between the EU and members of the OACPS, will play a catalytic and pivotal role in our collective journey to prosperity, peace, and a safe planet for all [of mankind] to live and flourish, in the future. The Pacific looks forward to playing its full part and to work with you Commissioner and the EU, to deliver on the ambitions and promise of our new Agreement for the benefit of all our communities especially the most vulnerable, and to leave no one behind.
In this regard, we are particularly keen to engage with the EU, before the joint programming exercise begins, so that we can be clear about modalities that will guide implementation, and to reset priorities based on existing challenges, during these unprecedented times. The aim is to ensure the speedy and timely disbursement of resources once all the legal requirement are in place.
The Pacific and EU negotiating teams have worked extremely hard to find compromise and reach agreement on all outstanding matters in the Pacific-EU regional protocol since our last meeting. As a region, we are happy with the provisions of the Regional Protocol, for the agreed language is flexible enough, in its construction, to address not only current and mid-term challenges, but also to take on board any long-term issue or priority that may arise during the life of the Agreement. I am also pleased to note that the Protocol, has at its core, the priorities of our region, and I acknowledge with appreciation the contribution of the EU in making this possible. Environmental sustainability and climate change; oceans, seas and fisheries; human and social development; sustainable economic development; and security, human rights and democracy are the central pillars to guide Pacific-EU regional cooperation under the framework of the new agreement.
Once again I extend my congratulations and sincere appreciation, on behalf of the Pacific region, to all our EU and OACP lead negotiators and their support teams, both at the political and technical levels. Thank you.
As we await the translation process to be completed, I trust we can now start the preparatory process for the signing ceremony to ensure that its hosting provides everyone with the opportunity to relax, reflect and enjoy this milestone in our EU-OACPS unique partnership. The Pacific region and Samoa in particular, therefore, look forward to hosting you all in Apia for the signing ceremony of our new Agreement towards the end of 2021. Faafetai tele lava and I thank you for your attention.
The Hon. Prime Minister of Samoa.