EU diplomats hosted Europe Day ceremony in Islamabad
Islamabad – Stefano Gatto, Acting Ambassador of European Union (EU), hosted a reception in Islamabad to mark the Europe Day. Diplomats of different cadres and a large number of Pakistanis attended the gathering where the guest of honour was Minister for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), Lieutenant General (r) Abdul Qadir Baloch.
Europe Day is celebrated around the world on May 9th but was postponed in Pakistan because of the tragic incidence in Gigilt in which three ambassadors from Norway, Philippines and Indonesia had lost their lives.
Ambassador of Romania Emilion Ion who had also accompanied others in the ill-fated helicopter, informed the participants of the event how he jumped from the helicopter during the incident. He said the ambassadors of Poland and Netherlands injured in the incident are also recovering fast.
EU relations with Pakistan are stronger and more diversified than ever: EU was the first trade partner of Pakistan. EU also supports Pakistan in its fight against terror as well as in the process of its development
Ambassador of Hungary Istvan Szabo said that Hungary has become a leading country producing oil in Pakistan as its share would be around 50 per cent of the total oil production in this country.
Nepalese Ambassador Bharat Raj Paudyal informed the participants about the situation in Nepal after the deadly earthquake. He said that rehabilitation process has started to settle the quake victims.
European Union – emergence of a peaceful cooperation
Explaining the significance of Europe Day to the guests, Mr. Stefano Gatto told that Europe day celebrates the historical declaration of 1950 by Schuman to overcome centuries of fights and violence through cooperation that utterly transformed the European history and led to 70 years of exceptional peace and prosperity in the region.
“Europe showed that courageous decisions can be made and lead to sustainable peace,” he said.
Shedding light on the history of European Union, Staffano Gatto said that the idea of European Union was materialized on May 9, 1950.
The roots of the European Union lie in the Second World War after which Europeans were determined to prevent more killing and destruction. In May 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman presented a plan for deeper cooperation and to create a new form of organisation of states in Europe, called a ‘supranational community’. Later, every 9 May is celebrated as ‘Europe Day’.
Based on the Schuman plan, six countries signed a treaty in 1951 to run their heavy industries – coal and steel – under a common agreement – so that none can on its own make the weapons of war. The proposal led first to the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and was also the forerunner of several other European Communities and what is now the European Union (EU).
The founding members of EU are: Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. From those six countries, the European Union now has 28 member states.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, and the 65th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration.
However, the current economic crisis poses a threat to unity of European countries, looking towards a different direction according to their interests. The crisis of Greece is also a challenge for the united EU while the present leadership of UK is also under pressure to pull out of the European Union.
European Union – a peaceful cooperation and model for others
On Europe Day 2015, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said:
“The European Union was born in the aftermath of a terrible war and we still live in an unpredictable world. Robert Schuman’s words therefore remain as valid today, as they were at the time. We want a Europe at the heart of the action, a Europe which moves forward, a Europe which protects its citizens, its interests and serves as a model for others.”
Mr. Qadir Baloch, while addressing the participants in Islamabad, said the European countries had fought terrible wars and after the Second World War they learned to live with peace and the idea of unity and neighbourhood was transformed into European Union. He advised that Pakistan and its neighbours should also learn from the experience of Europe and live peacefully with each other.
European Union and Pakistan
Europe, with its population of over 740 million people, is an important region for Pakistan. The region is one of the largest trading partner of Pakistan and a major source of foreign remittances by the overseas Pakistanis.
Indicators show Pakistan’s exports to the EU have increased by 1.16 billion USD during the first 11 months since the implementation of GSP Plus in January 2014. Pakistan’s traditional sectors, textiles and leather, greatly benefits from the EU’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) – a system that allows developing country exporters to pay less or no duties on their exports to the EU.
EU and China are Pakistan’s largest trading partners. Pakistan’s exports to the EU are heavily dependent on textile (41.8%) and clothing (33.6%) products, followed by leather products. The main imports from the EU are mechanical and electrical machinery (48%) followed by chemicals and pharmaceuticals (13.5%) and telecommunication equipment (12.4 %).
“EU relations with Pakistan are stronger and more diversified than ever: EU was the first trade partner of Pakistan and increased cooperation with this country despite the economic crisis in Europe. The EU supports Pakistan in its fight against terror as well as in the process of its development and will continue to do so, while stressing its attachment to universal values and principles” said Mr. Gatto speaking at the ceremony.