Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joseph Malanji says the European Union (EU) has played a key role in the fulfillment of the Zambian development agenda.
Mr Malanji said EU has continued to be a reliable partner especially in the implementation of the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) with focus on economic diversification and job creation, among others.
Speaking at the opening session of the Zambia-EU Political Dialogue, the Minister emphasized the importance of the meeting noting that it will enhance the cooperation between Zambia and the EU.
“I must underscore the importance of the dialogue as we endeavor to increase and solidify cooperation between Zambia and the European Union. I have no doubt that this year’s dialogue will build on the successes of the previous ones, and will be another opportunity to consolidate our relationship and explore new avenues of cooperation,” Mr Malanji stated.
He stressed the need for collective efforts by the international community to heighten cooperation in research for vaccination and cure for the Coronavirus.
Mr Malanji noted that with concerted efforts, there will be equity access across the world to ensure effective control of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the Minister said effects of climate change have negatively impacted on the agriculture and energy sectors, thereby causing food insecurity among other challenges in the country.
Mr Malanji explained that through bilateral and multilateral support from the EU, the government has put in place measures to control the ongoing challenges.
“Whilst the Zambian Government has put in place remedial measures, it is only through collective and concerted effort can such global challenges be overcome. I would therefore like to convey the Zambian government gratitude for the continued support at both bilateral and multilateral levels, in the area of climate change including the ongoing challenges of eradicating the African Migratory Locusts affecting Zambia,” he said.
He further indicated that the Zambian government remains committed to promoting principles of good governance, democracy and the rule of law, hence assured that the 2021 general elections will be free and fair.
The Minister is confident that the political dialogue meeting will further consolidate Zambia’s cooperation with the EU.
Meanwhile, EU Ambassador to Zambia, Jacek Jankowski said Zambia and the EU continue to be strong partners in good governance and the rule of law, as evidenced by the engagement in the implementation of recommendations of the 2016 EU election observation mission.
Mr Jankowski assured that EU will continue to support the electoral process in Zambia, with the aim of strengthening electoral institutions and processes, and enhance conflict prevention in the coming elections.
He disclosed that EU and EU member states recently contributed more than K185 million through the United Nations Development Programme to the electoral process in Zambia.
“As you all know, governance is at the heart of the common values we share. Zambia and the Zambian people can be proud of their longstanding democratic tradition, and they deserve elections they can trust. We need to acknowledge that the upcoming 2021 general elections are going to be very sensitive,” Mr Jankowski noted.
The Ambassador welcomed the official invitation from the Zambian government for EU observers to be deployed for the 2021 general elections.
And Mr Jankowski said EU is in support of President Edgar Lungu’s view that climate change is one of the most pressing challenges that required urgent interventions.