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Islamabad, 5th May, 2018: This year, the European Union and EU Member States in Pakistan celebrated Europe Day again in a unique manner, in light with the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage. A 'Eurovillage' was set up in Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA), Islamabad, aiming at promoting the European culture and values.
The general public was provided with multiple displays of Europe as a culturally rich and friendly place. The EU's as well as the Member States' stands showcased the countries' cultures and traditions, languages, food and music to Pakistan's general public as well as general information about the EU and the EU Member States.
The premises of PNCA were transformed into a genuine carnival with stalls with European typical food. There were information and activity booths for adults and children including quizzes, selfie walls and giant cut outs of famous landmarks in Europe. The evening ended with live performances of the European bands Lohninger & Fischbacher Duo, Wild ManGoes, Hun Solo and the Pakistani artist Zeb Bangash. A famous European illusionist Charlie Caper also enthralled the audience with his performance.
Ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan, H.E. Jean-François Cautain recalled that the reason the EU was organising a Eurovillage with participation from the Member States was “to remind everyone of the EU’s cultural richness while also underlining our unity”. The Ambassador affirmed that “the European Union is, and will continue to be a strong, cooperative and reliable partner to Pakistan. We stand for multilateralism, for human rights, and for international cooperation. We work at home and abroad to promote sustainable development, inclusive societies, and the fight against inequality of any type.”
The partnership between the European Union and Pakistan has progressed since 1962 in tandem with the European integration process. In order to further strengthen EU-Pakistan relations the two sides in 2012 adopted a 5-Year Engagement Plan with the common goal of building a strategic partnership for peace and development rooted in shared values, principles and commitments. The EU-Pakistan 5-year engagement plan came to an end in 2017 and the two sides are now aiming at endorsing a new strategic framework for partnership and cooperation that can guide relations aiming at further strengthening the already strong ties between the peoples of the EU and of Pakistan.
The discussed strategic engagement Plan aims at facilitating cooperation on a wide range of issues, including democracy, human rights, rule of law, socio-economic cooperation, energy, counter terrorism and migration. In order to implement the plan a wide range of political dialogues are carried out at all levels from ad-hoc summits between the heads of state and government to sectoral dialogues at technical level between experts in different fields. Today, the EU and Pakistan are not only partners in trade and GSP+ but also important political and development partners. The EU is a strong supporter of Pakistan's democratic development, illustrated by successive election observation missions from 2002 to 2013, and technical assistance provided to Pakistan's Parliament and to the Election Commission of Pakistan to advance electoral reforms.
The EU is also committed to cooperating with Pakistan in its fight against the shared burden of terrorism and extremism. At the same time the EU supports Pakistan's efforts to improve its human rights record, in particular in areas such as access to justice, freedom of religion or belief and the rights of women and girls, and provide education and economic opportunities for all Pakistanis. Migration is another area of cooperation, where the two sides have concluded a readmission agreement, ensuring the return of irregular migrants. The EU also fully recognises Pakistan's vital role in promoting peace and stability in the South Asian region and beyond, supporting the Government's declared goals of improving relations with its neighbours.