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February 6, 2015

Pakistan should be champion of regional integration: EU envoy


February 6, 2015

Lars Gunner Wigemark, the Ambassador of European Union, has said that Pakistan should be champion of regional integration just like six European states that had done a lot in case of EU.
He was addressing a seminar on ‘Deepening of Pakistan-EU Relations: Post-Afghan Withdrawal' organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute here on Wednesday. Mome Saleem conducted the proceedings.
The ambassador said that India should not press panic button at this stage. He said we share role being played by India in trade and Pakistan should take steps in regional integration. He welcomed Pak-China economic corridor as long it involves others also. He hoped relations with Iran will also improve one day.
The ambassador said that EU is a union of 21 democracies which arose from ashes of World War-II. He said that we support democracies in the world in education and health sectors in particular. Admitting it was not flawless model if you see past few years “but still Europeans tried to pool resources for an integrated region which seeks the countries to secede some of their sovereign rights.” He said actions undertaken in promoting sovereignty have impact on neighbours.
He said that EU welcomes improvement in Pak-Afghan ties as it is important for the both countries. He highlighted importance of transit trade agreement for SAARC countries. He said that we not only promote trade with regions but also within region and referred to his country Sweden’s trade with Norway and Italy asking Pakistan to explore trade vistas with its neighbouring India.
Mr Wigemark said India has ten times bigger area, population, common history and some disputes. If both New Delhi and Islamabad had positive relations, the ties with Europe will definitely improve, he said sharing Obama’s reservations on protectionism expressed in India adding that we want to end non-trade barriers.
The EU ambassador said Pakistan should move forward after 26/12 tragedy

in Peshawar. He said we would like to do more in terms of counter-terrorism and sharing intelligence. He said the answers lie within keeping in view culture and values while moving ahead in this respect. He said Pakistan has diversity and opinion against Taliban is dominant.
He said that EU will work in poor areas in the smaller provinces and south Punjab to combat militancy in Pakistan. He supported local elections as the MPs should not indulge in local issues.
The EU envoy said that EU is the largest donor as well as trade partner of Pakistan. He said that a country considering to trade with EU should implement the conditionalities of EU especially those related to human rights. He said that death penalty does not help in ameliorating the ties between EU and Pakistan.
Former ambassador to India Munnawwar Saeed Bhatti said that EU countries had been centre of economic and cultural activities and are like a model for us. He said that Pak-EU relationship is long term, friendly and closer than that with many other countries. EU acted as a model for other countries showing how to make their peoples prosperous.
Mome Saleem said that scholarship scheme was very productive which made students knowledge producers and not knowledge managers. She said that labour standards can only be implemented if we address other issues which are very different from EU and other places.
Malik Hussain from Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that GSP Plus status show the confidence of the world community in Pak exports. He said that death penalty was partially restored to combat the challenge of terrorism threatening the entire world.
He said West should not leave Afghanistan and must remain there to fight the menace of terrorism.
Ambassador Shafqat Kakakhel in his opening remarks said that there had been remarkable evolution in integration in the European region. Shakil Ramay from SDPI said that his organisation wants to contribute to peace and development.

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