Your Majesty, King Letsie III, it is an honour to present my letters of credence as the 12th Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to the Kingdom of Lesotho and the first woman to assume this function.
Lesotho-EU relations date as far back as 1976 and we have since continued to engage in a mutually beneficial cooperation. The EU’s long-lasting commitment to further the already robust relations with Lesotho and strengthen our diplomatic ties remains. It is my firm intention for the Delegation to continue to act as an effective bridge between Lesotho and EU institutions but also with the 27 EU Member States, as the only European mission based in Maseru. With the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honourable ‘Matšepo Ramakoae, we will soon start working for a new session of the Lesotho-EU political dialogue after a successful round this year.
My tour of duty marks the beginning of a new worldwide programme of cooperation – ‘Global Europe’ – building on the lessons learned under the Cotonou Agreement. In the case of Lesotho, we will build on the already solid basis established in the past cycle, continuing to invest in the sustainable and fair use of water, energy and natural resources and fostering governance, and social protection.
My mandate is to help to deliver a green and social deal for Lesotho, which will ensure a modern, resource efficient and competitive economy for Lesotho and which will be a lifeline in ensuring strong post-COVID-19 economic systems. This will help build a stable, peaceful, and prosperous Lesotho, and leave no one behind when doing so. The principle of leaving no one behind is at the core of the agenda for sustainable development and forms part of both internal and external EU policies and especially in the cooperation with countries where challenges for access to basic rights and services persist.
The same principle also inspires the continued engagement of the EU in supporting the National Reforms Process from its very inception. My predecessor Ambassador Manahl was an indefatigable advocate of this process and I will make sure to perpetuate his commitment. We are impressed by the inclusiveness of the consultations that have been conducted to shape the process and make it a truly national dialogue and by the slow but steady progress of the reforms. We understand the priority Lesotho assigns to structural reforms to help leave behind political instability and pave the way for a more prosperous and equitable country.
Our engagement with civil society in Lesotho will continue: we value civil society organisations as interlocutors alongside Government and we are willing to provide technical and financial support to make them more effective in their advocacy and service provision work, notably to promote gender quality, youth empowerment, human rights and respect for the Rule of Law.
Your Majesty, as I start my mandate I would also like to reassure you on the keen interest of the EU and its Member States to see Lesotho reap the benefits of international trade and promote its products of excellence under the favourable terms of the SADC Economic Partnership Agreement. I hope that this will open, in particular, new avenues for both the present and future Basotho youth, so that they can see a future for themselves in their beloved Mountain Kingdom and they do not succumb to the frustration of unfulfilled promises.
I hope we can live up to the legacy of the Her Majesty the late Queen ‘Mamohato – Mother of the Nation, in pioneering the rights of the most vulnerable Basotho, as Her Majesty the Queen ‘Masenate and Her Royal Highness Princess Senate are already doing. I was very impressed by the leadership of your daughter in her advocacy against child marriage. She is a perfect example of the committed youth of the twenty-first century. Bacha ba Lesotho and our youth in Europe are assuming responsibility to redress some of the evils that they have inherited and showing the way to the older generations in the protection of the environment, in the fight against climate change, in advocating for justice, in calling for a more equal society, where all enjoy the same rights.
As I conclude, Your Majesty, I would like to express the hope that we can finally leave behind the difficult period that Lesotho, Europe and all of humanity has lived through since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and that we can look forward to a more promising and healthy future. I wish you, your family and all Basotho nation peace, rain, prosperity.
Motlotlehi, ke u lakaletsa bophelo bo botle, uena le sechaba sa hao.
THANK YOU YOUR MAJESTY!
KHOTSO PULA NALA!