Brussels, 29 February 2016: The ACP Committee of Ambassadors welcomed two new diplomats from the Republic of Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo, who addressed their fellow African, Caribbean, and Pacific representatives for the first time last Thursday, since their recent designations to Brussels.

H.E Mr Antonio Rodrigue (pictured left) is a seasoned diplomat who has held various positions of responsibility in the Central Government of Haiti as well as in various Haitian Diplomatic Missions abroad for over 30 years. He served as Ambassador to the Bahamas as well as Spain, with postings in Geneva, New York, Paris and Venezuela.

During his allocution, Ambassador Rodrigue welcomed the spirit of solidarity from his fellow members and highlighted the need for the ACP Group to continue playing a leading role in discussions on global partnerships for development, in particular those relating to opportunities such as South-South and Triangular Cooperation. (Read his full statement).

He recalled the founding principles of the ACP Group’s longstanding relations with the European Union while underlining the importance of the discussions on the post-2020 future of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, including the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).

The ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, known as the Cotonou Accord, outlines the parameters for cooperation between the European and ACP countries in the areas of trade, development cooperation and political dialogue, including an allocation of EUR 31.5 billion to support poverty eradication and sustainable development programmes in ACP countries for the period 2014-2020. Signed in 2000 for a period for 20 years, the lead up to negotiations for a follow up agreement, has seen deep reflections on both ACP and EU sides regarding the framework of future cooperation.

Ambassador Rodrigue also informed the Committee about key political developments in his country, including the recent election of provisional President H.E Jocelerme Privert for 120 days, with presidential elections scheduled for 24 April 2016. He expressed gratitude to the international community for their support to the country.

In his maiden address to ACP envoys, the Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Congo H.E Mr Dominique Kilufya (pictured right), formerly Ambassador of his country to Canada and President of the Research Group on Congolese Diplomacy, described the changing global terrain and called for a re-examination of ACP-EU relations and future of the ACP Group.

Ambassador Kilufya stressed the need to harmonise ACP and EU priorities in order to bring about the best results. He stated that the future of the ACP Group will depend on its ability to adapt to the profound changes occurring in the world.

“We must be at the height of the challenges and speak with one voice at the international level concerning key issues of development that concern us all. If we wish to thrive and become a more relevant player after 2020, we must be brave enough to make constructive changes in our structures and our working methods in the interests of the 920 million people comprised in the ACP Group of countries,” stated Ambassador Kilufya. (Read his full statement)

The ACP Group is undergoing a process to reorient the organisation to become a more effective global player. The upcoming Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government scheduled in Papua New Guinea on 30 May – 1 June 2016 will review recommendations for organisational reforms submitted by an Eminent Persons Group chaired by the former President of Nigeria, H.E Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

Following their statements, the dean of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors, HE Roy Mickey Joy of Vanuatu welcomed the two heads of mission and reiterated the group’s full support and solidarity during their tenures in Brussels.

(Photo above: New Ambassadors from Haiti H.E. Antonio Rodrigue (left) and RDC H.E. Dominique Kilufya (right) with the ACP Secretary General H.E Dr. Patrick Gomes and Chairman of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors, H.E. Roger-Julien Menga of the Congo Republic (Brazaville))

– Press ACP