Visit of Catherine Ashton to Pakistan: joint press conference with Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistani Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
Type: Complete press conference
End production: 05/06/2012 First transmission: 05/06/2012
On 5 June 2012, the first EU/Pakistan Strategic Dialogue was held in Islamabad. The Pakistan side was led by Rabbani Khar, Pakistani Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and the European Union delegation was led by Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the EC.
The two sides expressed their deep satisfaction at the launching of the Strategic Dialogue, reflecting the comprehensive and forward looking nature of EU/Pakistan relations. This dialogue is the result of decisions taken at the 2009 and 2010 Pakistan/EU Summits. Both sides also welcomed the new Five-Year Engagement Plan that demonstrates the strength and diversity of this long term and broad based partnership. The two sides engaged in constructive and detailed discussions on enhancing bilateral cooperation and shared views on regional and international issues of mutual concern.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Joint arrival of Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the EC, and Rabbani Khar, Pakistani Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, at the press conference
||Soundbite by Rabbani Khar (in ENGLISH) saying that they consider their relations with the EU to be very important and they are proud of it; saying that today they have launched with the EU the Strategic Dialogue which will give them the opportunity to implement a five year engagement plan; telling the areas of discussions: security, democracy, governance, human rights' issues, socio-economic developments, investments, energy, education, migration; saying that she hopes that they will transform their relationship into a real partnership that will benefit both people of Pakistan and the EU; saying that the EU has been one of the largest trading partner of Pakistan: 25% of the Pakistan's total exports go the EU and about 11% of the Pakistan's total imports are coming from the EU; saying that the EU is also an extremely important development partner: Pakistan received 225 millions euro from the EU and this money is spent in development partnership in Pakistan across the different regions;
Saying that two years ago when she met Catherine Ashton and told her the need to support the system that is in place and trying to get as much funding through the system rather than outside the system; so that is sustainable; saying that she is very happy to announce that the EU has heard what Pakistan was saying and today at least 55% of total assistance coming from the EU is coming through government in general; that means that it is going to most vulnerable people because it remains a state responsibility to look after the most vulnerable people; saying that Pakistan is a country which is staffed at the hands of militancy; Pakistan has scarified its today for the tomorrow of the regions, for being a neighbour of peace and stability within the region; Pakistan had an economic lost of 70 billion of dollars; 30 000 of civilians also died in bomb attacks; Pakistan also lost 6000 military and paramilitary troops in fighting; so, she would like that all these sacrifices were recognised by the EU and so give to Pakistan preferential market access.
||Soundbite by Catherine Ashton (in ENGLISH): Can I begin by saying that it is truly a great honour to be here in Pakistan for my first official visit.
It's a great pleasure to be here and especially to be working with Minister Khar. You just heard from her what we've achieved, but also her ambition for this relationship. And I know, in all her international work on behalf of the people of Pakistan, how much she seeks to achieve for this country.
I am also very well aware of the challenges that Pakistan faces and the sacrifices that have been made.
As you said Minister, so many people have lost their lives, so many have been injured and so many families have been devastated by what has happened in this country, both in terms of terrorist activity, but also in the terrible floods.
So it is a great pleasure that I am here today in a very positive moment to be able to launch the Strategic Dialogue and the Engagement Plan. This is a 5 year plan deliberately designed to cover a whole range of issues and areas where Pakistan and the EU can work together, collaborate and establish stronger and deeper relationships that will help us to engage on some of the important issues for this country but also important issues that concern us all.
I think the discussions that we just had were excellent. I believe we have covered an incredible amount of ground in a short time, but also established the dialogue that will continue throughout the years, through seniors officials' meetings, and through our exchanges which can encompass so many different issues.
I want to say again that for the EU there was a real focus on our support for this country. I was reflecting again on what happened after the floods and the humanitarian assistance that came from the EU and its Member States. We gave 423 million euros and I mention that figure because it is a big figure deliberately put together to show how much we care about what is happening in this country. We are the largest humanitarian donor in Pakistan. We are very proud of that fact because we believe it is important to recognize that the development of this country is good for the people of this country, and the role of Pakistan in the region is good for all the people of the region. I hope that the engagement plan will enable us to complete a well-rounded relationship. Our relationship in the past was built on development and built on trade. Our strategic dialogue enables us to talk not just about those issues, but also to bring the political and security issues more to the forefront.
You and I Minister are engaged not just in our bilateral relationship but across the world we meet in all sorts of places. We discuss global issues and again I am absolutely certain that there is more that we can do together and that our voices can make a difference on some of the issues that are being faced right now in different parts of the world.
But coming back to this relationship, we want to work for the long term. We want to support your economy, to consolidate your democracy and to play a constructive role with you in this region. I often talk about politics meets economics. It is so important to help support people in this country to get the education they want, the employment they want, for communities to develop, for energy needs to be met. And alongside that I believe it helps to build and consolidate strong democracy.
You have elections next year and we will support in those elections. It's about building the institutions that help economic growth and help consolidate that real democracy. We do recognize the challenges this country faces and that is the reason that I am here. But it is also the reason that it is not the first time you and I have met and I was very proud to host the Friends of Democratic
Pakistan meeting in Brussels, very proud that we have already had serious engagement at presidential level and today. I was extremely pleased to have the honour to meet with the Prime Minister.
So more than anything my presence is to herald the 5 years ahead and to demonstrate how important we believe this country is, to pay tribute to the work that is going on, to support and help the people of Pakistan and to acknowledge the sacrifices that have been made. And, more than anything, to show that the European Union is not only a partner for now, but that it will continue to be a strong and reliable partner in the future.
||Questions from the journalists