THE European Union’s (EU) first-ever resident ambassador to Solomon Islands Leonidas Tezapsidis has presented his letter of credence to the Governor General Sir Frank Kabui at Government House, Thursday.
At the ceremony, Ambassador Tezapsidis expressed honour for being entrusted by the EU to serve in the Solomon Islands – a country with which the EU maintains a true and constructive friendship.
In 1981, the European Commission opened a Delegation in Honiara as a sub-office of the EU Delegation in Papua New Guinea.
Thirty three years later, in 2014, the EU decided to upgrade this office to a fully fledged Delegation of the EU to Solomon Islands with regional responsibility also for Vanuatu.
Ambassador Tezapsidis said the fact that there is now a resident EU ambassador in Honiara proves the importance that the European Union attaches to the country.
“Our partnership has allowed us to work together in order to address some of the most pressing challenges facing Solomon Islands,” he said.
He also praised Solomon Islands for overcoming the serious challenge of the recent ethnic tension but added that many more challenges remain to be addressed.
“The EU is here to help you, state authorities and other stakeholders alike to confront these challenges.
“We are and will be doing this in close coordination with all other international development partners to increase impact and avoid duplication,” Ambassador Tezapsidis said.
He also stressed that the EU’s desire is to support Solomon Islands’ economic and social development, which will also be in the interest of the EU.
Welcoming the new EU envoy, Sir Frank said upgrading the EU Office to a fully-fledged Delegation of the European Union in Honiara is a testimony to the deep trust that exists between the European Union and Solomon Islands.
“It is a culmination of a relationship that has been cultivated for many years of working together under shared arrangements,” Sir Frank said.
Sir Frank said the existence of the EU-African Caribbean Pacific Partnership (ACP), the Cotonou Partnership Agreement and the European Development Fund (EDF) is fundamental to our relationship with the European Union which contains a spirit of co-operation and shared history of common values.
“They are the conduits through which the European Union assistance flows out and into the recipient countries such as Solomon Islands.”
For Solomon Islands, the areas of assistance are good governance, climate change, gender equality, rural development, infrastructure, water and sanitation.
Other areas are fishery, forestry, education, finance, health and so on.
Sir Frank thanked the European Union for helping in partnership with others, in the preparation and running of the coming general election later this year.
The Governor General also assured the EU ambassador of the country’s continuous support to him during his term in office.