President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has expressed overwhelming happiness over the relocation of the Kingdom of Sweden’s Embassy to Liberia, as she received letters of credence from the new Kingdom of Sweden’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Liberia, Madam Sofia Strand. The Swedish Ambassador to Liberia had previously been based in her home country’s capital city, Stockholm.
According to the Executive Mansion, President Sirleaf received the Letters of Credence from the Ambassador Sofia Strand on Tuesday November 12, 2013.
Speaking during the presentation ceremony at her office, President Sirleaf said she was pleased to receive Letters of Credence from the new Swedish Ambassador, emphasizing how much Liberia values its long, historic relationship with Sweden.
She recalled relations between the two countries, which have transcended ordinary friendship, “Our bonds were cast out of the crucibles of industrialization of the mid-20th century and molded by the alluring imperatives for modernization and national development,” she stated.
The Liberian leader recounted Liberia’s long outstanding relationship with the Kingdom of Sweden. She noted that in 1953, the Liberian Government granted a concession to the Liberian, American, Swedish Joint Venture Mining Company (LAMCO) for the exploitation of iron ore deposits from Mount Nimba.
“What started simply as a financial and investment arrangement for mutual benefit with the formation of LAMCO, soon gave birth to a convergence of cultures, whose impact continues to resonate today, more than half a century later,” the Liberian leader further explained.
President Sirleaf expressed deepest appreciation for the strong support the Kingdom of Sweden provided Liberia during its years of crisis, as well as the critical assistance the Swedish Government continues to render the country.
“Today, Sweden remains one of the UNMIL troop-contributing countries, which have helped with the 10 years of uninterrupted peace we have enjoyed,” the Liberian President declared.
“The Government of Sweden,” she added, “remains engaged with Liberia through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) in its civil service reform program, gender and development activities, and many social programs aimed at improving the lives of Liberians.”
“Sweden,” the President furthered, “has increased its total volume of development cooperation aid to Liberia.”She also highlighted gender-based issues of rape and violence as serious concerns in Liberia, and urged the new Swedish Ambassador to assist government by working with the concerned line ministries.
At the international level, President Sirleaf said Sweden continues to work closely with Liberia in its drive for accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO); and partners with the United States and Liberian Governments in co-chairing the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States.
While there are enormous challenges, the President went on to say, her government has made considerable progress, thanks to the support of partners such as Sweden, and she cited the launch of a national framework, Vision 2030, which will see Liberia become a middle-income country by then.
“We are pleased to note that your Government has committed US$10 million to one of these pillars, which is the decentralization program,” the Liberian leader concluded.
Making a statement when she presented her Letters of Credence from the King of Sweden, Sofia Strand praised the relations between both countries which she said are long-standing and excellent.
“Our relations are based on friendship, mutual understanding and common views on many international issues,” she said. She stressed that development cooperation will continue to form an important part in the relations between Sweden and Liberia.
She pointed out that Sweden is currently preparing a new results-based strategy that will guide the partnership for next five years. “The New Deal and its principles will have a central role in this preparation,” Ambassador Strand said, adding further that their support to poverty reduction programs in Liberia has in recent years increased substantially. Swedish bilateral assistance to Liberia has increased by 50 percent over the previous year to approximately US$46 million.
Beyond bilateral development cooperation, Ambassador Strand said the relations between Liberia and Sweden have widened and deepened and are now in a process of dynamic development, extending to many sectors of both societies.
Sweden is chair of Peace Building Commission’s Liberia configuration in New York, as well as a pilot partner, together with the United States and Liberia, in the implementation of the New Deal. She looked forward to further strengthening and widening the ties between Sweden and Liberia during her tour of duty.
Prior to her appointment as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Liberia on September 12, 2013, Madam Strand served as Acting State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm. She previously served as Deputy Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Political Advisor at the Prime Minister’s Coordination Office. With her appointment, she is now resident in Monrovia, with Sweden switching from having its Ambassador to Liberia based in Stockholm.
Accompanying Ambassador Strand to President Sirleaf’s Office were the following Embassy staff: Counselor and Head of Development Cooperation, Ms. Gizela Strand; Counselor and Head of Administration, Ms. Anna Sããw, and the First Secretary, Ms. Lisa Ljungstrõm.