Brussels, 30 October 2017/ ACP: The President of Sierra Leone H.E. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma addressed the Committee of Ambassadors of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States on Monday 30 October to express solidarity with ACP countries as they work to reorient their future as an effective group and global player, while also preparing to negotiate a new and improved partnership with the European Union post-2020.

President Koroma emphasised that in order for the ACP Group has to be “positioned to become a more effective global player”, the organisation would have to diversify its partnerships beyond the European Union, with whom it shares a unique comprehensive partnership framework known as the Cotonou Agreement, as well as unlock a variety of funding sources to enhance financial stability of the Group.

In this regard, President Koroma conveyed his support for the proposed ACP Endowment and Trust Fund, currently being discussed by the ACP governing organs, as an “excellent vehicle” to raise the needed financial resources to carry out the work of the ACP Group more effectively.

“I will endeavour to make our financial contributions to the Endowment and Trust Fund to ensure the sustainability of the ACP Group of States as it forges new vistas of relationships and cooperation with the EU and other regional and international institutions,” he told the assembly.

He called for reinforced intra-ACP relations through South-South Cooperation, and supported the strengthening the ACP Secretariat for improved visibility.

“We are a Group of 79 countries, from three continents, the largest group in any institution in the world and we have the experience of taking collective action and solidarity… With the growing globalisation, the significance of the organisation cannot be undervalued,” stated the President.

President Koroma acknowledged the critical role the EU played in promoting the sustainable development of Sierra Leone, through the ACP-EU cooperation framework. He noted in particular the financial support provided under the 10th and 11th funding cycles of the European Development Fund, including the country’s National Indicative Programme under the 2014-2020 funding cycle, jointly agreed by the EU and the Sierra Leonean government and aligned with the nation’s “Agenda for Prosperity”.

In preparing for the new partnership agreement between ACP and EU countries for the period after 2020, when the current Cotonou Agreement comes to an end, President Koroma urged thorough consultations with all relevant stakeholders.

“We need to be inclusive in our approach, engaging all stakeholders on the ACP side, including ACP capitals and the regional configurations, the AU and even the EU capitals. But we also have to ensure complementarity and synergy, and avoid duplications,” he told the assembly.

“As we deliberate on the future of our partnership with the EU and the global community, and as we engage in discussions on our aspirations “Towards the ACP we Want”, I encourage that we stay engaged in the process, so that a Post-Cotonou Partnership would be mutually beneficial to all, in letter and spirit in decision-making, ownership, and at the level of representation.”

The Chairman of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors, the Ambassador of Senegal H.E. Mr. Amadou Diop welcomed the valuable insights provided by the Head of State. The Ambassador of Cameroon H.E. Daniel Evina Abe'e spoke on behalf of his peers as the Dean of the ACP diplomatic corps to thank Preisdent Koroma for his interventions and pledge the continued support of the ACP Group of States to Sierra Leone and its development aspirations.

The ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement is a legally-binding partnership agreement signed in 2000 by for a period of 20 years. It is the most comprehensive partnership agreement between developing countries and the EU, and frames its relations with 79 countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). The ACP-EU framework lays out rules and modalities for cooperation under three key pillars: trade, political dialogue and development cooperation. With the expiry of the Cotonou Agreement in 2020, negotiations are set to begin sometime in 2018 for a successor arrangement.

(Photos from top: H.E. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone addresses the ACP Committee of Ambassadors, seated with ACP Secretary General H.E. Dr. Patrick I. Gomes (left) and Chairman of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors H.E. Amadou Diop of Senegal (right); President Koroma greets Ambassador of Cameroon and Dean of the ACP Diplomatic Corps H.E. Mr. Daniel Evina Abe'e; President of Sierra Leone signing the ACP guest book; President Koroma with ACP representatives and members of his delegation, including Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Finance)

– ACP Press