Vice President Jessica Alupo has voiced her concerns over the ongoing conflict in Europe with strong calls to the warring parties to explore the possibilities of peace.
“We call on all the parties to refrain from the escalation of warfare, cease hostilities, de-escalate the conflict by diplomatic means and pursue mechanisms for dialogue and peaceful resolution”.
The Vice President was speaking at the European Day, a day marked in honour of Mr. Robert Schuman, the then French Foreign Minister, who proclaimed the historic Schuman declaration, that would mark the beginning of the long path towards European Unification in 1950.
Alupo said Uganda is concerned about War because “war and conflict anywhere around the World is of serious concern to Uganda as it leads to political, social, economic and humanitarian challenges”.
The Vice President said the European integration process that began with six countries after the Second World War and now has a membership of 27 countries, resonates with Uganda’s principled position in consistently advocating for national, regional and international peace, security and stability as prerequisites for economic growth and development.
“This is demonstrated by our active support and participation in efforts that promote the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the region and the wider continent,” Alupo affirmed.
She said that the commemoration of such a day presents a reminder of the need to safeguard the democratic values for sustainable peace and development.
Alupo noted the positive collaborations that exist between Government of Uganda and the EU calling it “vibrant and strong since the mid-1970s, reinforced by the EU – Africa- Caribbean Pacific Partnerships (ACP)”.
Alupo who was flanked st the reception by several Ministers said the EU is one of Uganda’s major development partners supporting the Country in different areas of growth and social development.
“We appreciate the important contribution and support that the EU has continued to extend in our social economic development and transformation agenda.
The Government of Uganda commends the EU for extending their cooperation in areas that are crucial for the development of the country such as infrastructure, energy, agriculture and supporting the Country to address key development challenges”, Alupo remarked.
The European Union Ambassador to Uganda, H.E Jan Sadek, who hosted the event, said Europe Day is not just a day to celebrate the birth of the European Union, but also a day to reflect on values such as peace, democracy, and the rule of law.
He referenced Robert Schuman’s remarks- “Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity,” adding thus, “this solidarity has been a cornerstone of European unity and cooperation for more than 70 years” Sadek said.
The Ambassador spoke deeply about the Ukraine-Russia conflict which he reffered to as “the Russian aggression war in Ukraine” .
“This is a threat not only to Ukrainian sovereignty and European stability but also to global peace and security”, Amb.Sadek remarked, with the Ukrainian flag flying alongside the EU one.
“Ukraine has our support and the response from the European Union and its Member States has been swift, united, and strong, countering the imperialism and colonialism on the Russian side”, he remarked.
Uganda has maintained a neutral stand ever since the war broke out, with President Museveni previously declaring soft engagement with both parties to end the war.
Uganda is also a member of the Non Aligned Movement which maintains neutrality and is set to host the conference where Uganda will assume chairmanship of the movement.
Speaking further, Sadek said the EU solidarity has been extended to other global partners- “promoting peace, prosperity and sustainability. This includes the African continent, and it includes Uganda”.
He pledged the Union’s intentions for stronger partnerships, highlighting cooperation on trade and investment, working with all segments of the Ugandan society.
“We have a continuous and broad-based dialogue with the Government, and we share the same views in many areas. We commend Uganda’s positive role in the region, we celebrate its developmental gains, its progressive refugee policy and its ambitions on renewable energy – where 90 percent of the country’s electricity comes from renewable sources”, Sadek emphasised.
He applauded the Government’s deliberate implementation of women advancement through political representation, the freedom of religion in the country and the coexistence between Uganda’s ethnic groups.
On the anti-homosexuality bill, the Ambassador voiced strong concerns, saying there was need for a “frank exchange also about such matters”.
The Bill was recently returned to Parliament after President Museveni’s further guidance to Parliament through the legal affairs commitee of Parliament-wgere ge called for its revision.
The EU has since met President Museveni over the same bill.
Ambassador Sadek hailed the relationship the EU has had with Uganda over the years especially in the areas of infrastructure and renewable energy, trade and investment promotion, education, and gender, culture and support for Civil Society, promotion of jobs, focus on access to skills and livelihoods for the youths, protection of the environment, among others.
Ambassador Sadek commended Uganda’s refugee policy.
The EU day gave a huge boost to Uganda coffee, with remarks from Sadek that “Coffee is what really links Uganda and the EU. Out of the Ugandan coffee exports, around 60 percent go to Europe.
In a boost to a sector that employs over 3,5 million families, all guests at the EU day were given coffee packages from the Uganda Development Coffe Authority.
On another beautiful note, H.E Jan Sadek gave a node to Uganda’s unparalleled beauty, referencing the Ugandan National anthem “Uganda is a land of beauty, and we are enjoying it every day”.