Source: Vientiane Times
The European Union has upgraded its Delegation to become a fully-fledged Diplomatic Mission in recognition of the growing ties between Laos and the EU.
Mr Leo Faber now serves as the new Ambassador of the EU Delegation to Lao PDR after presenting his credentials to Lao President Mr Bounnhang Vorachit in Vientiane on Tuesday. He replaces the outgoing EU Chargé d’Affaires Mr Michel Goffin.
The upgrade of the EU Mission to Laos is an excellent opportunity to renew the EU’s commitment to engage further with Laos on all aspects of modern diplomacy, including political dialogue, development cooperation, trade, environment, culture as well as global and multilateral issues.
Speaking to Vientiane Times shortly after presenting his credentials to the Lao President, Mr Faber said the E U and the Member States had long been engaged in development cooperation with Laos and would continue to do so in order to achieve development that was sustainable, equitable, and respectful of human rights.
“We will maintain a regula r and constructive dialogue on political, economic and social issues with the government because we believe that exchanges of views on areas of our mutual interest can create mutual understanding,” said Mr Faber.
“I’m honoured to be the first ambassador of the European Union to Laos. We hope that we can strengthen our relations,” he said.
“You know our relations are now mainly based on development cooperation. What I expressed to the President this morning is that we hope that we can enlarge and strengthen the relations beyond that.”
The ambassador said the EU lauded Laos’ efforts in successfully hosting the recent Asean summits and appreciated the way Laos negotiated with other countries.
The EU recognised that Laos is transforming itself from a small ‘land-locked’ to a land-linked country and the union hoped to see Laos graduate from least developed country status by 2020.
The EU Delegation to Laos was opened in Vientiane in 2003 and since then relations between the two sides have improved covering many areas reaching a new era this month.
The EU is a major donor of Laos, providing grant aid to fund a number of development projects in the country.
The EU 2014-2020 programme for Laos (207 million euros) focuses on nutrition, education and governance, while also tackling issues such as UXO decontamination, gender equality and climate change.
Mr Faber said areas of cooperation between Laos and EU would not change until 2020 given that these areas had been defined with the government in line with Laos’ socio-economic development plans.
Mr Faber is originally from the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs in Luxembourg where he served as Deputy Secretary General. He has been posted previously as a Luxembourg Diplomat to the Permanent Mission to the UN in New-York, to Beijing and to Hanoi as Chargé d’Affaires where he was in charge of development cooperation in Vietnam and Laos.