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Since the establishment of the European Union Delegation in the Kingdom of Lesotho in March 1976, our mandate includes managing and promoting friendly relations between the European Union and Lesotho through diplomacy, political and policy dialogues as well as through our cooperation programmes. Our partnership is broad and comprehensive with a central objective of eradicating poverty through sustainable development and fair trade.
Over the period 2014-2020, the EU and its partners in Lesotho have agreed to concentrate cooperation in three priority sectors in the framework of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF): i) water, ii) sustainable energy, and iii) good governance and social protection. In addition, EU assistance will enable civil society to play its vital role in Lesotho, in particular to promote social responsibility and participation. The support being provided in these key areas is vital to both improving living standards for the Basotho people and ensuring a sound basis for sustainable socio-economic development.
While development assistance has been for long the main focus of the work of the Delegation, political relations, trade, human rights, security issues, and cultural diplomacy are becoming increasingly the focus of attention.
The Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho is a small country with resourceful and resilient people who are proud of their traditions and culture, as well as of their contribution to the fight against Apartheid in South Africa. Lesotho has a considerable potential in agriculture, mining, tourism, and manufacturing. With a population smaller than the metropolitan areas of Baltimore or Brussels, Lesotho has become one of the top garment exporters to the USA, showing that with the right policy framework, it can be a competitive player in the global economy. But Lesotho has also been struggling with political instability, economic shocks due to its over-dependence from South Africa, growing inequality, high levels of crime and domestic violence, as well as with the scourge of HIV and AIDS.
In order to tackle these problems and to realize its full potential, Lesotho must mobilize all its people and its institutions towards a common vision for a better future and a common effort to resolve social and political conflicts. The Basotho can draw inspiration from the wisdom of the founding fathers of the nation, who forged unity and secured the country’s independence during the troubled times of Lifaqane and expanding colonisation.
Important initiatives have been taken to start improving civil service efficiency and public finance management. The government has made a commitment to undertake comprehensive reforms, including in the security sector, judiciary, parliamentary system, and it considers reviewing the constitution. There is also a recognition that the legal and institutional framework regulating business and investment needs to be streamlined in order to unlock the potential of the private sector and to encourage entrepreneurship.
The European Union has supported Lesotho since the early years of independence and it stands by its government and its people to help them carrying through these reforms. We offer our own experience in overcoming divisions, resolving conflicts, and establishing a rules-based economic system, stable democratic traditions, and managing the delicate balance between encouraging innovation and the creation of wealth on the one hand, and promoting an equitable distribution of it on the other. The EU also offers funding for infrastructure, social protection and accountability, as well as duty and quota free access to European markets under the recently signed Economic Partnership Agreement with SADC.
I am looking forward to a frank and inspiring dialogue with all sectors of Basotho society in order to maximize the impact of our cooperation and deepen the decade-old relationship between Lesotho and the European Union. As the European Union Delegation is the sole European diplomatic representation in Lesotho, I also pledge to maintain close contact with EU Member States' Embassies accredited to the country and to facilitate their interaction with the authorities and the people of Lesotho.
KHOTSO PULA NALA
Christian Manahl, Ambassador and Head of EU Delegation
Olivier BOUGET (Resident in Pretoria)