It was with great enthusiasm that I accepted the offer a few months ago to assume the position of Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union in the Kingdom of Lesotho. After a few weeks in the country, my enthusiasm continued to increase. I am thankful for the warm and unconditional reception by all of the people that I have met in these first days and for the patience that all have shown to me in addressing my many questions!
I look forward to strengthening the already solid relations that my predecessors have built with the Government, the private sector and all branches of civil society as well as continuing to contribute to the environmentally and socially sustainable development of the country. I am honoured to be able to build on the strong foundations that my colleagues have laid and to bring new bricks to the construction of the Lesotho-EU partnership.
I come to Lesotho at a turning point in the Kingdom’s history. The government has undertaken to implement comprehensive reforms, as the result of an inclusive process to which the EU was privileged to contribute. We are optimistic that this process will continue and succeed, and form the best basis not only for the next electoral campaign and polls, but also for a governance system that better responds to the needs and aspirations of all Basotho.
As the sole European diplomatic representation in the Mountain Kingdom, the EU Delegation has remained a reliable partner of the Kingdom of Lesotho since its establishment in Maseru in 1976. The Delegation aspires to remain an effective link between Lesotho, the EU institutions and services, and the 27 EU Member States, in particular, through their diplomatic missions accredited to Lesotho.
The principle ‘to leave no one behind’ will be at the core of my mandate in Lesotho. This concept, that inspires the Sustainable Development Goals, is at the heart of EU cooperation with partner countries. It is the guiding principle of the programmes and initiatives that the EU implements already and the initiatives it is planning with its counterparts in Lesotho.
The choice to focus on the sustainable, universal access to energy, water and sanitation and to the better management of natural resources is aimed at the wellbeing of all Basotho, to ensure that future generations inherit a country not depleted by exploitation of the environment that benefits only a few in the short-term. In the last years our societies in Africa, in Europe and across the globe have paid a very high price in terms of human lives and suffering because of the COVID-19 pandemic and extreme weather catastrophes: this should help us realise that only the judicious use of natural resources can help us avoid the collapse of planet Earth. Our youth is right to protest as they will be the ones ‘left behind’ picking up the pieces, if we do not act decisively following up on the commitments undertaken under the Paris Agreement on Climate. In this spirit, I look forward to listening to the youth of this country and to those engaged in protecting its valuable environment.
Support for the national reform process, for the inclusion of civil society organisations, for the promotion of human rights and democracy will continue to be an integral part of the programmes in the years to come. As the first woman to represent the EU in the Kingdom, I will also insist on introducing to all our initiatives a focus on the promotion of gender equality, on the empowerment of women and girls and on the fight against gender-based violence.
The EU is also keen to establish a more active dialogue with its trade authorities and facilitate more support for the productive sector, provided it is socially and environmentally sound, in order to assist Basotho to look for outlets in Europe to market their products. The aim is ensure Basotho take advantage of the opportunities under the SADC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), and they benefit from the expertise available in the EU Member States. A new phase of cooperation between Lesotho and the EU begins in 2021 with the worldwide programme ‘Global Europe’. While instruments and people change, our commitment for a fruitful relationship based on our shared values and for contributing to a peaceful, just and prosperous Lesotho remains steadfast.
KHOTSO PULA NALA.
Head of Delegation