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EU/Bots celebrate 40 years

- Millions risk lives to enter EU every year

The European Union Delegation celebrated the anniversary of the Schuman Declaration of 9th May 1950 when the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman made his landmark speech on his vision to unite the states of Europe into a single community.

"It remains one of the most powerful ideas ever articulated and which has turned Europe into a zone for peace and prosperity. Today we are a union of 28 member states that have come a long way but admittedly the road has been a little bumpy more recently," said Alexander Baum, EU Ambassador to Botswana and SADC.

He said, "There are millions of people whose only dream is to come to Europe – attracted by its peace, its prosperity, its respect for human rights, the freedom of speech, of belief etc. People from Eritrea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Morocco, Iraq and Syria – just to name a few of the most important countries of origin – don't want to go to other places - in fact they risk their lives to get to Europe."

Baum maintained that the EU is the only successful process of regional integration and the riches continent in the world. He maintained that everywhere the EU is the first investor, the first donor for humanitarian development aid and the first diplomatic power.

The EU's friendship and partnership with Botswana is in its 40th year with relations initiated by the Lome Convention of April 1976, when Botswana and what is now the European Union started their close and successful co-operation. Currently the EU and six SADC countries, among them Botswana have scheduled the signature of the Economic Partnership Agreement soon.

The EU and the Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries(ACP) are later this year scheduled to start discussions following the expiry of the Cotonou Agreement in 2020, the successor of the Lome Convention. The future of this partnership will impact relations.

Officials contend the signing of the 11th European Development Fund(EDF) National indicative Programme(2014-2020) in june 2014 between the European Union and Botswana is a clear indication of Europe's determination to continue its assistance to Botswana's quest towards economic diversification and growth.

The support covers three sectors namely Education, Public Sector Reforms, measures in favour of Civil Society and is in line with Botswana's national priorities.

"Economic diversification and global competitiveness remain major challenges to sustaining Botswana's development growth. In this regard, the Government of Botswana has identified education and training as critical areas for economic development and technological change with a need to strengthen the links between education and employment, in particular by infusing business and enterpreneurial skills throughout the education and training system and by promoting a culture focused on productivity, skills and performance," said Pelonomi Venson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation.

She said, "The sector budget support continues to assist the Government to effectively finance and manage the education and training sector as well as to expand equitable access to quality education and training tio increase focus on the relevance of skills to the economy and the employability of young people as they leave the education system."

Botswana also benefits from the EU through the regional funds given to SADC. The 2014-2020 Regional Indicative Programme under the 11th EDF amounts to about 90 million EURO's and contributes to issues of peace, security and regional stability, regional integration and regional natural resource management.

 

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