President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf yesterday received the Letters of Credence from the new Ambassadors of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Alaa Khaira Issa, and the Kingdom of Sweden, Ms. Lena Nordström, respectively.
Mr. Issa, and Ms Nordström presented their Letters to President Sirleaf at a formal ceremony in the office of the President at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday, October 19.
Receiving Letters of Credence from Ambassador Issa, President Sirleaf expressed her gratitude to officially welcome him to the country as he embarks on his new assignment.
“It is my ardent hope that your coming will help us fulfill your government’s commitment to the dynamic partnership with Liberia, and further energize and cement the already flourishing relationship of cordiality and friendship which subsists between our two countries,” she said.
She recalled that Liberia and Egypt have enjoyed a relationship spanning nearly 60 years. She highlighted Egypt’s assistance to Liberia prior to the country’s civil war when in 1965, Liberia and Egypt signed the first Technical Agreement by which Liberians benefitted from various training programs provided by the Egyptian Government in the areas of manpower development, especially agriculture, health and education.
Due to our many years of conflict, the Agreement was interrupted. However, the Liberian leader expressed delight that the relationship has been reactivated and strengthened.
President Sirleaf noted Egypt’s continued assistance in the education and health sectors, especially by providing scholarships for Liberian students to study in Egypt as well as with doctors serving at the Jackson F. Doe Referral Hospital in Tappita, Lower Nimba County.
“We really would like to see this relationship deepened and strengthened,” she said, noting their collaboration in different organizations including the United Nations, African Union, Africa Islamic Movements, among others.
She again called on the new Egyptian Ambassador to forge collaboration in the private sector, “because this sector is the engine of growth.”
“We would like to see business people of both countries work together and encourage investment and other ways where both governments and peoples can collaborate,” she appealed.
President Sirleaf assured that the government will work with the new Ambassador to build upon the successes both countries have jointly attained in Liberia-Egypt relations; as well as to strengthen mutual trust between the two governments and peoples; expand mutually beneficial cooperation in trade, investment, commerce, and technical assistance; and strengthen education, knowledge-sharing and cultural interchange.
In response, the new Egyptian Ambassador reiterated that “the bonds between the countries are not recent. They emanate from the ideals of independence from foreign domination, liberty of the people, and dignity of the individual, he stated.
“The commitment of Egypt to preserve its relations with the proud people of Liberia is absolute, whether in times of prosperity or turmoil and I am honored to be the envoy of President El Sisi to this great nation, the oldest independent state on the African continent.”
He promised to share the brotherly love of the people of Egypt with their Liberian brethren and assured President Sirleaf that during his stay in Liberia, which he termed his second home, he will spare no effort to strengthen the bonds between both governments and peoples.
To Ambassador Nordström of Sweden, President Sirleaf said she would welcome the encouragement of more private sector investments in Liberia to drive economic recovery and the rebuilding of the country’s crumbling infrastructure.
“We primarily seek investments that would prioritize job creation, and sustain growth and development,” the President said, noting that Sweden’s private sector is well positioned to play a pivotal role in that regard, according to an Executive Mansion release.
Ambassador Nordström replaces Sofia Strand, Sweden’s first resident Ambassador to post-conflict Liberia, who completed her tour of duty in the country recently.
President Sirleaf welcomed with much gratitude, Sweden’s interim plan to provide expertise and financing for business development in Liberia, partnering with the private sector to jointly pursue development projects with shared goals and values.
She acknowledged with appreciation that the Swedish Government’s new strategy, soon to be approved, is intended to guide both countries’ partnership for the next five years.
President Sirleaf welcomed the renewed commitment of the Swedish Government to collaborate with Liberia in areas deemed very significant to the country’s recovery process including: peace-building and security, democracy and human rights, agriculture, gender based-violence, as well as the Swedish Government’s Feminist-oriented Foreign Policy. The President added, “As an advocate of women’s rights, I yearn for the practical implementation of the Swedish Government’s Feminist-oriented Foreign Policy.”
Concerning the enhancement of peace and security in Liberia, President Sirleaf informed Ambassador Nordström that her government is making frantic efforts in its attempt to buttress international endeavors aimed at addressing present and future security concerns, especially in anticipation of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) drawdown.
She named the “The Liberia National Police (LNP) Act of 2015” and “The Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) Act of 2015” recently submitted to the National Legislature for timely enactment into law.
President Sirleaf also shared with the new Ambassador steps her government has undertaken since her administration especially its development agenda. “In order to continue and sustain the rebuilding of a foundation for a better Liberia, not only did we endeavor to sustain the peace and tranquility for more than a decade, we also embarked on reform initiatives including the launching of our development vision called “Vision 2030”, the Agenda for Transformation, the implementation of the New Deal for fragile states, the National Policy on Decentralization, the adoption of a concession framework, the integrated Public Financial Management Reform Project, the National Reconciliation Roadmap, among others,” she catalogued, adding, “These and many more confirmed that we were on the right trajectory, concerning our recovery program, until Ebola struck the nation in 2014.”
She thanked Sweden for standing by Liberia during the fight against Ebola; noting that with the support received from the international community including Sweden, coupled with the resilience of our people, the fight against the deadly Ebola virus was finally won.
For her part, Ambassador Nordström confirmed that the relationship between both countries has grown stronger and her task is to make sure that they become broader and stronger.
She indicated that development cooperation continues to be an important aspect of the relations between Sweden and Liberia and her government will soon approve a new strategy that will guide the partnership between both countries over the next five years. The bilateral allocation will remain around US$32 million annually.
Highlighting some areas of collaboration, the new Swedish Ambassador named peace building and security, democracy and human rights, agriculture and economic development and gender equality including gender-based violence. “This signifies that Sweden remains a committed partner to Liberia,” she said.
One of the priorities of the Swedish Government, Ambassador Nordström named is a Feminist Foreign Policy; noting that the rights of women are fundamental for the preservation of peace and security in our world. “The Feminist Foreign Policy is the Swedish way of contributing to making sure that women’s voices are always heard, that women’s participation is always guaranteed and that women are economically empowered.”
Before her appointment to Liberia in September 2015, the new Swedish Ambassador to Liberia served as her country’s Ambassador to Zambia and was also accredited to COMESA from November 2011 to September 2015.
Before then, she served as Sweden’s Ambassador to Colombia with concurrent accreditation to Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela from September 2005 to October 2011.