A delegation of European Union Heads of Mission based in New Delhi is on a visit to Bhutan (30 January to 3 February 2017). The delegation is being led by the Ambassador of the European Union for Bhutan, H.E. Mr Tomasz Kozlowski. The visit provides an opportunity to exchange views on development cooperation between Bhutan and the EU and review the growing political ties between the two sides. Discussions cover a wide range of issues, such as Bhutan's democratisation process, social and economic development, and foreign policy issues.
Heads of Mission participating in the visit include: Ambassador of Lithuania, Mr Laimonas Talat Kelpsa; Ambassador of the Czech Republic, Mr Milan Hovorka; Ambassador of Greece, Mr Panos Kalogeropoulos; High Commissioner of Malta, Mr Stephen Borg; Ambassador of Estonia, Mr Riho Kruuv; Ms Magdalena Cruz, Chargé d' Affaires for Spain; Mr Georg Zehetner, Chargé d' Affaires for Austria.
New EU funding announced
During the visit, Ambassador Kozlowski announced new EU funding in the following areas:
The funding aims to support Bhutan's current 11th Five-Year Plan and as well as the forthcoming 12th Five-Year Plan. The announcement was made at an official ceremony on 1st February, attended by Hon'ble Minister Lyonpo Dawa Gyeltshen, Ministry of Home & Cultural Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB) and Mr Thinley Namgyel, Secretary, Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC), RGoB.
Speaking at the inauguration, Ambassador Kozlowski said, "EU and Bhutan enjoy a strong bilateral relationship. I am confident that this new support will go a long way to assist the Government in its effort to improve the livelihood of Bhutanese citizens." He further underlined EU's willingness to keep the relationship growing, as well as reaffirmed EU's determination to support Bhutan's ambitious development agenda.
Meetings in Thimphu
On the second day of their visit, His Majesty the King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck granted an audience to the delegation of EU Heads of Mission. The delegation also met with the Honorable Prime Minister of Bhutan, Mr Tshering Tobgay.
Ambassador Kozlowski, together with the accompanying EU Heads of Missions also met Members of the Government, the private sector, development partners, and other during their visit. The delegation will undertake a field trip to Punakha on 2nd February 2016 where it will meet and interact with local government officials.
EU development cooperation with Bhutan
Through the Multi-annual Indicative Programme (MIP) for 2014-20, the EU provides assistance to the Bhutanese government in moving towards its goal of achieving self-reliance and inclusive socio-economic development as identified in its 11th Five-Year Plan, under the overarching philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH). According to the MIP 2014-20, the support will be mainly invested in: (1) Capacity development for local governments and fiscal decentralization; (2) Civil Society; and (3) sustainable agriculture and forestry. Additional support will be provided to combat climate change. A possible support to trade is under preparation. The EU contributes funding to some projects implemented by the UN and WHO in Bhutan.
About the European Union (EU)
The EU, which consists of 28 countries, has the world's largest economy and its third largest population, after China and India. Though richly diverse, the countries that make up the EU (its 'Member States') are all committed to the same basic values: peace, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. They have set up common institutions so that decisions on matters of joint interest can be made democratically at European level. By creating a frontier-free single market and a single currency (the euro) which has been adopted by 19 Member States, the EU has given a significant boost to trade and employment. It is also at the forefront of policies on sustainability.
The EU has had a very strong presence in Bhutan since 1982. It works closely with Bhutan to reduce poverty, enhance food security and strengthen the democratisation process.
More information at: https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/india/2062/bhutan-and-eu_en
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