Georgetown, Guyana – (May 09, 2016) President David Granger and Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and for the Dutch Overseas Countries and Territories, Ambassador Jernej Videtič, this evening, committed to strengthened relations between Guyana and the European Union (EU), even as Guyana came in for praise for restoring democracy to the people, through the recently held Local Government Elections (LGEs).

The commitment was given at a celebratory reception, which was held to observe ‘Europe Day’, at the National Cultural Centre. President David Granger and Mrs. Sandra Granger, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, Minister of Public Infrastructure, Mr. David Patterson, Minister of Public Telecommunications, Ms. Catherine Hughes, Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Noel Holder, Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Barton Scotland and members of the diplomatic corps and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) were in attendance.

President David Granger, in his remarks, noted that the EU and Guyana forged a special bond four decades ago, beginning with the historic ‘Georgetown Agreement’ of 1975. Since then he noted, Guyana has shared a relationship of mutual cooperation with the regional body in a number of areas.

“The European Union is one of Guyana’s main trading partners. Guyana exported goods valued at €192 million, or about 15 percent of Guyana’s exports, to the EU in 2013 alone. Guyana’s imports from the EU were valued at €122 million. Guyana has been a beneficiary of cooperation with the European Union and EU member states’ in agriculture, education, food security, governance, health, hinterland development, aviation and infrastructure and sea defence and coastal zone management,” he said.

President Granger said that the celebration of Europe Day 2016 is a beacon to all nations, noting that it shows that the path to peace and sustained security begins with deepening the integration process and with the increase of emphasis on international cooperation.

“Guyana is pleased to join the Delegation of the European Union in the commemoration of this important day and in the celebration of peace and unity in Europe. ‘Europe Day’ is an acknowledgement of the importance of integration in Europe. The Shuman Declaration of May 9, 1950 proposed a means of creating common economic interests that would act as a brake on conflict between the countries of the Continent and as a step towards the integration of Europe. The European Union evolved from that process. It inspired regional integration efforts in other parts of the world after the end of the Second World War. It initiated a successful integration mechanism, notwithstanding its challenges,” President Granger said.

European integration, he noted, also, has been an instrument for deepening and widening cooperation with countries and other regions of the world and it is to this end that the European Union remains a valued development partner in the Caribbean.

“The Joint Caribbean-EU Partnership Strategy, concluded in 2014, forms a basis for continued responsiveness to development challenges and opportunities. Guyana welcomes the European Union’s assurances of dialogue and consultations with the Caribbean region on the issue of the EU’s implementation of its External Strategy for Effective Taxation as part of its Anti-Tax Avoidance Package,” the Guyanese leader said.

In the meantime, Ambassador Videtič heaped praises on the country and the administration for facilitating the holding of the recently concluded Local Government Elections, after more than two decades.

“Here in Guyana on May 11 last year national and regional elections saw a change of administration. I would like to congratulate President Granger and his Government for their success. Furthermore, on March 18, this year Local Government Elections took place or the first time in over 20 years; something which all Guyanese should welcome,” he said.

That aside, Ambassador said Videtič that the whole process of integration and enlargement of the European Union has affected people on many levels. He noted that Guyana shares cooperation in a number of areas and it is his belief that these can be further strengthened.

“Guyana has also, with its CARIFORUM partners, signed the Economic Partnership Agreement in 2008, guaranteeing a duty free quota free access to the EU. We also cooperate politically, including through a formal mechanism of political dialogue. Through dialogue we explore commonalities; areas where we can work together to achieve our common aims. I am certain that the strong value-based partnership between the European Union and Guyana will continue to advance our mutual principled and responsible efforts towards climate change, human rights, political, economic, and social development and many other issues,” he said.

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