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State Secretary Šter: Efficient development cooperation at the head of the priority tasks of the international community

The State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Andrej Šter, today hosted the Conference on the Challenges of EU-27 Development Policy, which was attended by development ministers from EU Member States and the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel. The participants discussed the efficiency of development cooperation, the situation in Kenya, and the issue of children and women in armed conflicts.

At the beginning, State Secretary Šter emphasised that Europe has demonstrated its desire, willingness and strength to enhance partnership in the area of development cooperation. "We are the largest global donor and contribute more than one half of the overall world development aid," he said. "Thus we greatly contribute to the improvement of living conditions for many people, as well as the institutional capacities of countries, administration, democratic development, human rights, and international peace and security."

State Secretary Šter highlighted the importance of efficient development cooperation and added that the ambitions in this area remained clear, which means that eight development goals should be attained by 2015. "We are aware that attention should be given to the areas in which the achievement of the Millennium development goals will require particular efforts; in this context, Africa is one of the key partners of the European Union," Šter said. Also in this context, he went on to say, it is necessary to stress the importance of policy coherence in development cooperation, both at the EU level and at the level of the Member States. "In this area the European Union has set up appropriate policies and mechanisms; however, we must strengthen and intensify our efforts."

"Now is the right moment to think about the future development cooperation of the EU," continued State Secretary Šter, and emphasised challenges such as climate change, peace and security, respect for human rights, removing trade barriers, and fulfilment of basic human needs.

Furthermore, the conference addressed the discussion on the problem of children and women in armed conflicts, which is the priority of the Slovenian Presidency in the field of development cooperation. The exchange of opinions on this subject will serve as a framework for the preparation of further steps, which include the draft conclusions to be discussed at the meeting of the development General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) in May 2008.

Commissioner Louis Michel and Netherlands Minister for Development Cooperation Bert Koenders reported on their recent visits to Kenya, where the EU supports the efforts of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities led by Kofi Annan, and is prepared to continue cooperation in the framework of its process for solving the situation in this country. Among other things, Slovenia expressed its support to the further provision of humanitarian and other EU aid to the Kenyan population in need.

The participants at the conference also considered the issue of regional integration of the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, which concerns the conclusion of comprehensive economic and partnership agreements (EPAs) between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific regions.

Within the technical seminar accompanying the conference, the participants, whose aim was to strengthen the efficiency of development aid and to integrate a broad spectre of the relevant actors in EU development cooperation, tried to introduce the financial mechanisms of EU development cooperation to the relevant subjects in the Member States, such as non-governmental organisations, local communities and business people.


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Date: 27.02.2008