Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has assured member states of the European Union (EU) that Ghana’s 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary elections would be held in a transparent, free and fair manner.
The Minister gave the assurance in her welcome address at the 2020 edition of the Ghana-EU Political Dialogue held on Wednesday, January 29, at the Obed Asamoah Conference Room of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration in Accra.
The Dialogue provided an opportunity for Ghana and the EU to discuss matters of mutual interest under the theme “Ghana and EU: Partners for the Future”.
In assuring the EU member states of a peaceful election in 2020, she noted that
“as we all know, elections are an important part of every democratic society. Their main purpose is to provide citizens with an opportunity to choose freely their political leaders and allocate power peacefully.”
She added that “for a very long time now, Ghana’s elections have been transparent, peaceful, free and fair, and this Government is determined to ensure that that enviable record of accomplishment is maintained in this year’s elections.”
Turning attention to Ghana and the EU relations over the decades, she observed that Ghana and Europe have been bound together for centuries by their common history, thereby interlocking their cultures and resulting in their shared values.
Indeed, she said, their long joint history is replete with fruitful partnerships, enhanced in recent times by an existing framework of a yearly political Dialogue which enables them to take stock of their cooperation and assess how it is benefiting their peoples.
“It is an opportunity to expand our engagement and to address any challenges that may exist,” she said.
“My personal wish is that at this particular session, we make an honest appraisal of what the yearly Ghana-EU Dialogue has achieved, renew our commitments, and chart a courageous course for the subsequent years,” she urged.
The Minister revealed that Ghana continues to benefit from the prime position the EU occupies when it comes to global trade.
The openness of the EU’s trade regime, she said, has meant that the Union remains the biggest player on the global trading scene and also continues to be a major trading partner for Ghana.
“The EU remains the leading destination for Ghana’s exports, offering free access to the EU market through the framework of first the Lome Convention, followed by the Cotonou Agreement, and now the interim Economic Partnership Agreement,” she stated.
The EU has indeed been an important bedrock for Ghana’s development, according to her.
That notwithstanding, she observed that in a fast-changing world with important transformational shifts, the EU is more than a key political, economic and development partner of Ghana.
She explained that “the EU is a safe anchor and vital link for a modern, forward-looking and sustainable Ghana.”
“Our Dialogue today is therefore, not only to reaffirm the high premium we place on our relationship with the EU, but also to discuss ways and means to elevate it, going beyond our traditional development cooperation,” she added.
“We are, indeed confident that within the ACP-EU framework and beyond, the EU will back the ongoing efforts by Government to invest in human development, research, and innovation which are the cornerstones of a modern economy and an inclusive society,” she said.
The Dialogue took place at a time the Government of Ghana has embarked on a number of initiatives aimed at consolidating the macroeconomic environment whilst transforming the economy.
This is being done through flagship programmes, such as the ‘One District One Factory’, ‘One Village One Dam’, ‘Free Senior High School Education’, Planting for Food and Jobs’ and the 'Formalization of the Economy through Digitalization’.
These initiatives, the Minister said, are all geared towards creating jobs and economic opportunities for the youth in particular, whilst transforming the economy from over-reliance on aid to trade.
Appeal For Support
Mrs. Ayorkor Botchwey seized the opportunity to solicit the support of member states of the EU for Ghana’s candidatures for the following positions: Dr. Edward Kwakwa for the Post of Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) at elections to be held in Geneva, from Thursday, 5th to Friday, 6th March, 2020, and Madam Hilary Amesika Gbedemah for re-election to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), at elections to be held in New York on Monday, 29th June, 2020.
“I trust that Ghana can count on the invaluable support of all of you in these elections,” she appealed.
In attendance at the Dialogue were the Vice President of Ghana, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia; Ministers and Deputy Ministers Present; the European Union Ambassador to Ghana, H.E. Diana Acconcia; Heads of EU Member Countries, and the Chief Director and Directors of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and other Sector Ministries.