European Union Election Observation Mission
Ghana, 2016

Farewell words by EU Ambassador João Aguiar Machado for WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo, 22 July 2020

Geneva, 24/07/2020 - 00:00, UNIQUE ID: 200724_6
Speeches of the Ambassador

Dear Roberto,

It would be impossible to sum up in few words the immense contribution that you have provided to this Organisation throughout your career - as capital based official, Ambassador in Geneva and eventually as Director-General.

I still remember the first time we met to discuss WTO matters – but it was too many years ago, enough to say it was last century when we were both posted in our respective missions to the WTO.

You took the helm of the WTO at a challenging time and three months later you managed to deliver a Trade Facilitation Agreement. The hugs (and some tears of joy) in the final session in Bali marked a landmark achievement and a model for the future which would have not be possible without you.

And it would not be possible because the mix of talents that you put at disposal of WTO Members is unique:

  1. trade expertise: those who had the misadventure of litigating against Brazil know something about it…;
  2. utmost transparency: the 20 hours long session with more than 100 delegations in the room  - painstakingly going through every line of the negotiating text are still vivid in many colleagues' memories – at least those who didn't fall asleep at the time;
  3. human touch: as you said so many times, you have been in our shoes – and we have always considered you one of us – a "primus inter pares" who could understand our constraints and motivations.
  4. Respect and dedication to the Organisation, which is probably what eventually led you to take a decision which the EU regrets but understands – a feeling that usual accompanies difficult choices.

 Roberto, a more hidden talent - which looking at your knee today few may suspect – are your football skills. As any great player, you were respected by adversaries and loved by team mates. Your touch and vision allowed this Organisation to score memorable goals and victories – I wish you the same on your future endeavours and all the best wishes to your wife Lélé and family.

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