Vanuatu commemorated EU Day on 9th May 2017. Here is the official of Mr Leonidas Tezapsidis:
"I would first like to thank the Ambassador of France and his good wife, my friends Gilles and Afida, for hosting this event at the Residence. It could not happen at a busier time of their national calendar, given last Sunday’s presidential election. Tropical cyclone Donna has not made things easier! I am particularly happy to be with you this evening. Celebrating Europe’s Day in Port Vila is proof that, even without permanent presence, the EU is close to Vanuatu and listens to the pulse of its citizens. A promise of continuous support and attention that I gave you, Mr President, when I presented to you my credentials in October 2014. Today we remember and celebrate the “birth” of the European Union. 67 years ago, on 9th May 1950, Foreign Minister of France, Robert Schuman, made a revolutionary declaration. He proposed to place the coal and steel production of France and Germany under a common Authority, the “European Coal and Steel Community”. He also invited other European countries to join in. Schuman’s declaration should be seen in its historical context. In 1950, European nations were struggling to overcome the devastation of World War II, which had ended only 5 years earlier. Pooling and jointly managing materials used in war, was meant to end age-old divisions and make wars between former enemies “unthinkable and materially impossible”. Schuman’s idea became reality two years later. In March 1957, sixty years ago, two additional treaties were signed in Rome setting up the “European Economic Community” and the “European Atomic Energy Community”. These supranational institutions would become part of today's "European Union". EU’s motto has been "United in diversity". Our diversity has been our richness; our unity, our greatest strength. However, building unity from diversity is not easy. It is far more difficult in a Union of 28 Member States than the initial one of 6. It requires constant cooperation, patient negotiations and compromise for the common interest. The virtues of compromise and solidarity have advanced European integration over the decades. "Solidarity" has been the secret of our success. It was combined with tolerance and respect for our differences: cultural, linguistic, racial, religious. 2 But this solidarity and unity have been severely tested lately. One may even ask whether the EU still has good reasons to celebrate, given the problems and threats that we are currently facing: wars and trouble spots in Europe’s immediate neighbourhood; acts of terrorism; a refugee crisis; internal economic inequalities; rising anti-EU sentiments; and BREXIT negotiations, following the outcome of last June’s referendum in the UK. My answer is yes, we do have reasons to celebrate! Sixty years after the signature of the Rome Treaties, the Union is the world’s largest project of peace, rewarded with a Nobel Peace Prize in 2012; and of prosperity, with 500 million EU citizens producing the world’s highest GDP. The EU is also the world’s first trading partner and the first donor of humanitarian and development aid. Our project has brought about protection for workers, and opportunities for business; freedom for citizens to speak, to move, to vote, to choose their own destiny; and for Member States, even to leave the Union! Our project has been based on a common commitment to fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law: principles that we are prepared to protect and defend when they are threatened or violated. Today we celebrate EU’s achievements, but we cannot rest on our laurels. Peace and prosperity can no longer be taken for granted, especially in today’s globalizing world and continuous technological change that impacts heavily on incomes and employment. EU institutions, policies and methods clearly need reforms. Changes are necessary. They are possible and are happening. For instance, in the security and defence fields, there has been more progress in the last 12 months than in the last sixty years. The existential threats that Europe is now facing come primarily from within our own borders. The dangers and risks are great, but hopefully politicians will come to understand that we are at risk when we build walls, instead of tearing them down; and that we need leadership, not populism; the kind of leadership and vision that Europe's fathers, like Robert Schuman, had demonstrated. The results of the recent presidential and legislative elections in Austria, the Netherlands and France are encouraging. Internal crises have in fact demonstrated EU’s resilience. While the UK’s decision to leave the Union is clearly a tragedy, BREXIT has brought a renewed commitment of the remaining 27 to stick together. Together is the only way we can face the challenges of our times. The choice of a stronger EU in the world belongs to us. The choice of a more just, more secure and more equal Europe. This is what Europe’s Day is all about: not the future of the EU’s institutions, but the future of every single European citizen. In the current global environment, our friends around the world look at the EU as a reliable superpower for peace and human development; as essential partner in the fight against climate change. We also understand that peace and prosperity in the EU can only be lasting if they can be shared equitably within the Union and with partners around the world: in Africa, the Middle East, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. 3 Our relations with developing partners are no longer focused on development cooperation alone. They cover a broad spectrum of issues that we discuss in the framework of our regular political dialogue: from political developments, to economic and trade policy, as we did successfully with Vanuatu in Brussels last January. Our aim is to achieve better mutual understanding, leading to improved political and economic governance, as well as social standards. The Prime Minister has underlined the importance that his Government attaches to inclusive and sustainable growth. Priorities include education, health, water and sanitation, infrastructure and, last but not least, rural and agricultural development. Private sector is a key engine for economic growth, hence the importance of an environment conducive to private local and foreign investment. The EU can only subscribe and offer its support to efforts aimed at improving livelihoods, creating jobs and helping diversify Vanuatu's economy, notably in the agricultural sector. We are also keen to pursue our close partnership on climate change and disaster risk management, both at bilateral and multilateral level, given the country’s extreme vulnerability to climate change and natural hazards. We also provide general and sectoral budget support, bringing substantial financial resources to the treasury for the implementation of public policies. This requires continued efforts to improve public finance management; and a policy dialogue that demonstrates the Government's commitment to improve transparency and accountability in the use of its budget. Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, The European project has shown that we can achieve reconciliation, peace and prosperity by overcoming divisions, uniting former enemies, pulling down national frontiers and striving for a common European, rather than narrow national interest. We can share a lot with Vanuatu, a young multi-ethnic democracy with unique diversity, including the lessons of successes and failures of European integration. Dear friends, Let us raise a glass together to Peace, Prosperity, Friendship and Solidarity between the peoples of Europe and Vanuatu".