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Europe Day commemorated

May 12, 2010, 11:18 AM | Article By: Baboucarr Senghore

The European Union Commission in The Gambia on Monday, May 10th, commemorated "Europe Day" at a cocktail reception held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.

The event, which brought together members of the diplomatic corps and government ministers, among others, was meant to celebrate the chain of historical events that culminated in the coalition of some of the world's greatest economies into one geographical and economic group known as the European Union.

Speaking at the occasion, Madam Helene Cave, European Commission Charge d'Affaires in Banjul, highlighted some of the major achievements of the EC in The Gambia over the years.

She stated that Europe Day has become the symbol of a new beginning, of a free and successful way of peaceful cooperation between sovereign nations, based on shared values and a common interest, such as peace, solidarity, democracy, welfare of people and rule of law.

According to Madam Cave, the EU remains by far the biggest multilateral donor in The Gambia, and its contribution has increased over the years. She revealed that the financial envelope of the 10th European Development Fund, for the period 2008-2013, amounts to 76 million Euros, equivalent to D2.65 billion.

This, she added, represents an increase of around 40% compared to the previous EDF envelope for the period 2002-2007.

"Our EU cooperation is fully supportive of the Millennium Development Goals attainment in line with the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper II and also Vision 2020, which represent both the medium and long-term views, where His Excellency President Jammeh wishes to take the country," she said.

Madam Cave, who is set to leave The Gambia in three months time, said in the area of road infrastructure, the completion of the Mandinaba-Seleti road in July 2009, and substantial completion of the Barra-Amdallai road, both trunk roads will improve the road network from Banjul to the southern and northern borders of Senegal.

She also noted the substantial completion of 47 kilometres of the Soma-Basse, road and the long-term technical assistance to the National Roads Authority, including the setting up of a fully equipped laboratory for the testing of road construction materials.

Concerning the water sector, Madam Cave stated that results are also encouraging and that by the end of this year, around 115, 000 Gambians should benefit from access to safe-drinking water in various regions of the country.

Commenting on the agriculture sector, in particular the groundnut sub-sector, she noted that the most important achievements are the development of a Quality Assurance Framework for groundnuts, provision of equipment for testing and analysing mycotoxins to the GGC laboratory and to NARI, grading equipment to groundnut seccos and rehabilitation of three tug-boats of the GGC river transport fleet.

She also announced that the EU is currently implementing a project to strengthen the Gambian non-state actors, and in the coming months, a call for proposal to finance projects in various sectors will be launched.

"On the political side, we also started in 2009 the so-called political dialogue in the context of the Cotonou Agreement, and very soon the 4th session will take place," she said, adding that this high level dialogue allows the EU and The Gambia to address issues related to political governance, economic governance and cooperation.

Dr. Mamadou Tangara, the Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, spoke on behalf of The Gambia government.

"It is crucially important", he said, "that we appreciate that Europe Day does not exist outside of the global family, and thus is influenced by the global trends just as it also contributes and influences such global phenomena."

"We know with certainty, for instance, that no nation, region or continent is secured in the absence of global peace. Similarly, nations will continue to be insecure in so far as the forces that undermine peace can strike in any part of the world," Dr Tangara added.

He then called on all to contribute to global unity, cohesion, development and all efforts, aimed at maintaining peace and the progress of the human species.

According to Dr. Tangara, it must be acknowledged that Europe Day seeks to bring the citizens of the European Union closer and, by the same token, it provides opportunities for citizens of the union to reach out and create awareness for the world to understand and appreciate what the EU is all about, and how international relations can be mutually strengthened.