The European Union has recognized the critical role of Pakistan in bringing peace in Afghanistan.
In an exclusive interview with News and Current Affairs Channel of Radio Pakistan, Ambassador of European Union to Pakistan Androulla Kaminara said Pakistan played a key role in safe evacuation of EU nationals from Afghanistan.
She said over the last few weeks, there have been scores of meetings between representatives of the European Union as well as individual members of EU states with Pakistani authorities mainly on the situation arising out of Afghanistan.
Androulla Kaminara appreciated Pakistan’s declaration that government in Kabul must be inclusive and women should also be given representation.
The EU ambassador said the bloc has been following the regional developments very closely after the take-over of Kabul by Taliban. She said the EU is interested in respect of human rights, an inclusive government in Afghanistan and evacuation of EU citizens and Afghan nationals who want to leave the country.
She said the EU has provided 57 million Euros in aid to Afghanistan since the beginning of this year. Besides, the bloc has announced to quadruple this amount and last week additional one hundred million Euros were announced for the war-ravaged country.
The EU ambassador said we will continue to provide aid to Afghanistan to avert any humanitarian crisis in that country. She, however, ruled out the possibility of recognition of the Taliban government by EU at this stage.
On the issue of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Androulla Kaminara said the EU has always maintained that human rights have to be adhered to and respected. She said we have been encouraging both sides to continue efforts to bilaterally solve the issue. The EU ambassador said we are very encouraged to see that there were very few violations on the Line of Control than previous years. It is an encouraging sign that could lead to more understanding from both sides to potentially resolve the conflict. She said we are against the violations of human rights anywhere.
Turning to current state of bilateral relations with Pakistan, the ambassador said ties with Pakistan are multifaceted and we are working on a number of issues. She said on international level we are working with Islamabad on climate change and promoting relevant decisions at the UN system. Within the country, she said, we work on issues of trade and business among others. Androulla Kaminara said the EU is number one destination of Pakistani goods due to GSP Plus status accorded to Islamabad. She said during 2019, Pakistan exported goods worth 7.5 billion Euros to EU market.
She said the EU has been supporting Pakistan’s SME sector to facilitate them to increase their share of exports. We have recently set up EU Pakistan Business Forum for SMEs to help them interact with their counterparts in Europe.
Explaining the scheme, Androulla Kaminara said through GSP Plus status, Pakistan has been able to export goods to EU since 2014. The country received zero import duties for its products in the EU. She said as part of GSP Plus status the country has to adhere to reforms to 27 UN conventions. She said Pakistan is a signatory to many of these conventions. She said we are collecting information and the next review of GSP Plus status is expected by the end of the year.
Ambassador Androulla Kaminara said the EU has a strong cooperation with Pakistan on election issues and it sent Election Observers in last three elections. She said some suggestions of EU Election Observers have been carried out by Pakistan but still there are things pending.
She said the EU has also been cooperating with Pakistan on other projects and we have signed a 40 million euro program for water management in Balochistan. The project aims at stopping the water wastage in the province.
Androulla Kaminara said after signing of Strategic Engagement Plan between EU and Pakistan new areas like cultural exchanges, education, information technology and knowledge exchange have been incorporated. She said EU’s Erasmus Programme offers scholarships to students worldwide. She said two years ago Pakistan received one hundred scholarships for master and Ph.D studies. The ambassador further said we don’t have quotas for the country and best students applying from the world get the scholarships. She said Pakistan is the third most successful country in getting the Erasmus scholarships. In addition, a number of universities from Pakistan are participating in Erasmus Plus program for introduction of new curricula and training. Pakistani institutions of higher education are being financed to train them in new areas of teaching
The ambassador said EU and Pakistan are also working closely on a number of projects in the domain of counter terrorism. She said we provide training to Pakistani security personnel besides providing them equipment.
The EU ambassador said the European bloc also provided Pakistan development cooperation aid comprising grants in order to address issues of poverty, natural disasters and other areas of concern. The EU also provided aid during floods and other natural calamities in the past.
The weekly program “Diplomatic Session” was hosted by renowned journalist and columnist Javed Siddiq while Producer of the program was Saeed Ahmad and Executive Producer Abdul Raoof Khan.
The weekly program “Diplomatic Session” is being broadcast from News and Current Affairs Channel and FM 101 networks of Radio Pakistan every Saturday at 1815 hrs.
The show is also available on Radio Pakistan’s official website “www.radio.gov.pk”, Social Media Platforms and Radio Pakistan’s Podcast “podcast.radio.gov.pk”.