By EDDIE OSIFELO
EUROPEAN Union has never left Solomon Islands after it pulled out its Honiara Embassy in 2018.
EU Ambassador and Head of the European Union Delegation for the Pacific, Sujiro Seam confirmed this in an exclusive interview with Island Sun.
He was responding to a question if EU is returning to the Solomon Islands due to the geo political rivalry between China and the Western countries like Australia and United States of America.
“We have never left.
“It’s not because we as an Embassy and Delegation to the EU was closed in 2018 that European Union has left the country,” he said.
Seam said actually, the decision which was made was to regroup all the staff and resources in one delegation at Suva, Fiji which becomes the Delegation for the Pacific.
“So, the resources we have here locally was transferred to Suva, Fiji but it’s from Fiji now that we run the projects that are implemented in the Solomon Islands.
“And off course the idea that the Embassy was closed was that we would be travelling often enough to maintain this link with Solomon Islands,” he said.
His Excellency Seam said unfortunately, with Covid 19 this link was broken because travelling was impossible.
“And we maintained the relationship just like anyone else through video conferences and virtual contacts.
“But it’s true that it is making a big difference when I have the capacity or when my team has the capacity because I didn’t come alone.
“I come with a Delegation of my colleagues when we collectively as European Union have the capacity to visit the country to meet the people and to monitor the implementation of our projects,” he said.
“But we have never left, when the Embassy and the Delegation here closed, that we stopped our involvements with the projects that benefiting people of Solomon Islands,” he added.
Ambassdor Seam had launched four EU funded projects in Honiara last week.
- the $78 million EU Funded projects for health and education to be implemented by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to support Provincial Governance and Service Delivery in Solomon Islands.
- The $4.6 million EU funded project to support People Living With Disability (PLWD) to produce sustainable and meaningful change for the rights of people with disabilities.
- $4.1 million EU funded Livelihood Improvement Project for Central Islands Province to be implemented by World Vision.
- The $4.6 million EU funded project to combat People in Trafficking (PIT) and Gender Based Violence in Solomon Islands.