Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MFAET), Hon. Jeremiah Manele, held a bilateral meeting with Mr. Christian Leffler, the Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) in Brussels, Belgium.
Minister Manele expressed the desire of the Government of Solomon Islands to further consolidate and strengthen relations with the European Union (EU). He conveyed Solomon Islands intends to organize a high-level political dialogue with the EU as part of initiatives that will be undertaken to foster closer collaboration and working partnerships with development partners.
Both Minister Manele and Mr. Leffler agreed for plans to be finalized for a SI-EU political dialogue to take place later this year.
Minister Manele expressed Solomon Islands continues to closely follow the ongoing negotiations of a post-Cotonou cooperation arrangement. He reaffirmed Solomon Islands commitment to the pillars which Pacific leaders agreed as a platform for the composition of a Pacific Regional Protocol. This included recognition of pillars such as security, climate change, ocean governance, fisheries, and human, economic and social development.
The Minister stressed composition of the regional protocol be premised on the main principles embedded in the post Cotonou foundation agreement.
Minister Manele also expressed the need for the EU to reconsider its presence in Honiara following the closure of the European Delegation in September 2018. Minister expressed EU presence in Honiara will ensure effectiveness and efficiency in the implementation of bilateral cooperation programs supported by the EU through the National Indicative Programme (NIP).
He further emphasized Solomon Islands initiative to accede to the EU – Pacific interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA) and will constitute an important part of strategies to prepare for Solomon Islands graduation from LDC status at the end of 2024.
The Minister also held a bilateral meeting with Mr. Koen Doen, the Deputy Director General for the European Commission Directorate – General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) in which they discussed issues relating to EU bilateral support for Solomon Islands.