The celebration coincided with the farewell ceremony for Ms Agnes Guillaud, Charge d’ Affaires of the Delegation of the European Union in The Gambia, following her four-year term in the country and retirement from European External Action Service.
The celebration, in the form of a reception, was held at the EU Residence in Fajara.
In her speech on the occasion, MsGuillaud spoke at length on the importance of the day, stating that peace and prosperity based on deep commitment to fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law cannot be taken for granted.
Peace, freedom, democracy and human rights have to be nurtured and protected every single day, she said, adding that these are fundamental values the EU “stands to protect”, as well as many people around the world.
Ms Guillaud said the EU’s relationship with The Gambia goes back to 1976, and encompasses both development cooperation and dialogue with the aim of contributing to reducing poverty and improving the standard of living of the people of The Gambia.
“We have taken important initiatives to support women’s rights and strengthen empowerment of Gambian women, inaugurated infrastructure projects funded through development cooperation, easing access from the east to the west of the country, increasing road safety, fight against food insecurity and providing support for a better access to justice for Gambian citizens, among others.”
She also said that over the years, she had worked with “extremely” hard-working people both from the private and public sector.
“My work in The Gambia has been at times quite challenging, but always interesting and varied,” Ms Guillaud declared.
In her remarks, Foreign Affairs Minister Neneh Macdouall-Gaye said the EU had succeeded in providing its 29 member states with the right platform to collectively work together in marshalling resources and political will to resolve their common problems, and contribute to the search for sustainable peace and development.
She said the EU is capable of adding a dynamic and viable quota to international partnership as it strives to address the complex and multifaceted issues of economic development, as well as related issues of peace, security, migration and organized crime.
Looking back at 2014, she noted, tangible and concrete results have been registered through the implementation of projects and programmes, and “it is worthy to note that thepartnership between the EU and The Gambia specifically the Global Climate Change Alliance SupportProject, and the Drainage, Sanitation and Waste management for flood prevention project, just to name a few.”
Hon Macdouall-Gaye further stated that The Gambia and the EU shall build stronger relationship on the sound foundation of mutual respect and genuine cooperation; and the Gambia government will continue to adhere to and uphold international norms and values, but will also protect the sanctity of its sovereignty and safeguard its religious beliefs, culture, customs and traditions of its people which constitute the pillars of its society.
“As development partners may at times differ in opinion, belief or approach to certain issues, nonetheless, this is healthy for all genuine relationships as it will facilitate dialogue and understanding.”
She also said they would also draw inspiration from the celebrations of Europe Day, and combine it with the vision and mission of the Gambian leadership to build a viable nation capable of managing its own affairs, while forging and fostering international partnerships based on mutual respect, recognition and cooperation.
She used the opportunity to congratulate the governments and the people of the European Union on Europe Day, and prayed that the EU achieves all its economic and development objectives for the well-being and progress of its people.