Delegation of the European Union to Swaziland

EU Ambassador Hernandez Aragones presents her credentials to Swazi Monarch

27/10/2017 - 12:38
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On 26 October 2017, new EU Ambassador to Swaziland, Esmeralda Hernandez Aragones, presented her credentials to His Majesty King Mswati III. The event took place at the King's Palace at Lozitha near Manzini, Swaziland's second city.

The presentation of the credentials marked the official start of Hernandez Aragones' tour of duty in the Kingdom of Swaziland.

Presenting her credentials, Hernandez Aragones said she felt honoured to be the next EU Ambassador to Swaziland. She committed herself to enhancing the cordial relations between the EU and Swaziland as well as strengthening the network of cooperation projects the EU is undertaking in the Kingdom in order to benefit the country and its people.

In response, the King warmly welcomed Ambassador Hernandez Aragones to the Kingdom and hoped she will continue from where her predecessors left off. The King said the EU was a key and important development partner of Swaziland without whom the country's development initiatives would be undermined.

He said Swaziland was proud of the EU's contribution to the country's development for more than 40 years now and hoped that this partnership would continue for many years to come.

Below is Ambassador Hernandez Aragones' speech during the occasion.

Your Majesty,

I have the honour and privilege to present to Your Majesty, together with the Letters of Recall of my predecessor, the Letters by which the President of the European Council, Mr Donald Tusk, and the President of the European Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker, request that I be accredited to the Kingdom of Swaziland as Head of the Delegation of the European Union.

I am happy as well as humble that the choice of President Tusk and President Juncker has fallen on my person to represent the European Union in Your Majesty’s beautiful country.  It is also a particular honour for me to be the next resident EU Ambassador to the Kingdom of Swaziland.

President Tusk, President Juncker, the High Representative, Ms Federica Mogherini, and all the staff of the European institutions convey their best wishes and high respect for yourself, your family and the people of Swaziland.

In the mission entrusted to me, I shall endeavour that, based on shared values, the people of the Kingdom of Swaziland and of the European Union draw the maximum benefit from our partnership under the Cotonou agreement.  It is my ambition that the European Union Delegation here in Mbabane is more than just a bridge between the Government of Swaziland and the European institutions; it should also be a bridge between our people, our societies and our economies and between the youth of Swaziland and the youth of Europe.

In an increasingly globalising world it is essential that Swaziland benefits from this and engages in a more balanced sharing of growth and wealth.  As such, I am committed to use my previous experience to make Swaziland part and parcel of the Africa Union-European Union Joint Strategy.  This year’s Fifth AU-EU Summit taking place on 29 – 30 November 2017 in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, will be a crucial opportunity for us to emphasize the dynamism of our partnership.

In actual fact, 2017 is a defining year for the partnership between Europe and Africa. In a rapidly changing global landscape, Africa is experiencing profound economic, political and societal changes and its importance to the internal and external dimensions of Europe's security and prosperity is becoming ever more obvious. Europe and Africa have much to gain from increased political and economic ties, but also a lot to lose if they fail to act.

Therefore, this 5th AU-EU Summit provides a critical opportunity for African and European leaders to respond to this evolving context and reshape and deepen the AU-EU partnership. To this end, the European leaders are looking forward to welcoming Your Majesty in Abidjan on this occasion.

At this stage, may I also congratulate Your Majesty for your wise and strong leadership during your recent term as SADC Chairperson. From your excellent contribution the region definitely has something to build on going forward and we all look forward to the end of the political crisis in Lesotho. Stability in the SADC region is not only important for the region's citizens and indeed the whole world, but will also help attract the much needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to help in the creation of jobs thus boosting the economies of the SADC member states.

Your Majesty, the Kingdom of Swaziland and the European Union share a broad agenda of political, developmental and trade-oriented co-operation. We can only succeed in our important mission if we work even more closely together. We must therefore involve all actors, including all levels of government, non-state actors, the private sector and community-based organisations.

The effective entry into force of the Economic Partnership Agreement in October 2016 as well as its implementation will further improve the trade relations between the EU and Swaziland by maximising private sector development and trade which are significant economic drivers to lift people out of poverty. The preferential to the EU market access granted through the SADC-EU EPA is a strong driver for growth and I look forward to continue our joint undertakings in developing the agriculture sector to profit from this opportunity.

In addition, the successful implementation of our co-operation under the Cotonou Agreement and deepening our political dialogue is on our agenda.  Making our co-operation beneficial to the development of the Kingdom of Swaziland and its people in the struggle against poverty is our common objective. 

Against this background, I am committed to deepening the ties between the European Union and Swaziland and broadening as well as strengthening the network of cooperation projects undertaken by the EU in Swaziland.

Your Majesty, the EU is proud that it has been a reliable partner and supporter of Swaziland's development initiatives for more than 40 years now. During this period the EU has contributed in a very substantial manner to support multiple sectors of the Swazi society such as education, health, agriculture, infrastructure development, strengthening of governance, institutional capacity building, trade facilitation as well as democracy and human rights so as to help support the country to fight poverty and improve the quality of life for all Swazis. Of particular note is the fact that the EU has contributed extensively to helping Swaziland achieve universal education by supporting free access to primary education.

All this is testimony that the EU is committed to seeing Swaziland develop in all sectors of society for the benefit of the country's citizens so that they enjoy an improved quality of life in line with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. At this stage I would like to congratulate Your Majesty and your country for the positive strides Swaziland has taken in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The recent survey showing a reduction of HIV infection by almost half in the country is indeed very encouraging. It shows Your Majesty's good leadership and commitment in the fight against this scourge. I can only encourage Swaziland not to rest on its laurels but to continue this remarkable progress.

At the same time, I would like to further congratulate Your Majesty for the successful enactment in August 2017 of the Suppression of Terrorism (Amendment) Act as well as the Public Order (Amendment) Act. No doubt the signing of these two pieces of legislation will help Swaziland strengthen her socio-political environment thereby assisting the country move forward in the right direction. This will contribute, I am sure, to appease social strain including through favouring the preparation of inclusive general elections in 2018. In parallel it will also benefit the country's business climate facilitating the reinstatement of a better economic dynamics with the country's main economic partners, which will also impact on much needed job creation.

These developments demonstrate Swaziland's will and capacity to adapt to an evolving world through reforms that preserve its fundamental traditions and values, while ensuring a more stable future for all. In this regard, as we move our partnership forward, allow me also to mention the enactment of the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill which has the potential to take the country forward in issues of gender and preventing domestic violence.

Your Majesty, before I conclude my remarks, it is with a true sense of honour and satisfaction that I take up this new assignment and I shall endeavour to enhance the cordial relations between the European Union and the Kingdom of Swaziland.

Finally, in beginning my tenure as EU Ambassador to the Kingdom of Swaziland, I vow my total commitment and dedication in pursuing this mission.

Thank you – Siyabonga Kakhulu!

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