In a speech on the occasion of EU Day, Jessen described his four-year term in the country as “happy” with “interesting” and “occasionally challenging times.”“Looking back at the past four years, I note that we did get some things right,” the envoy said of EU-Philippines relations.
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Outgoing EU envoy wishes Duterte success, good health
Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - May 11, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Outgoing European Union Ambassador Franz Jessen on Thursday wished President Duterte success, good health and a long life and expressed confidence that the Philippines “will do well” in the years to come.

In a speech on the occasion of EU Day, Jessen described his four-year term in the country as “happy” with “interesting” and “occasionally challenging times.”“Looking back at the past four years, I note that we did get some things right,” the envoy said of EU-Philippines relations.

He cited the ratification of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) last year, the return of its development assistance in the country and the “still strong” foundations of the two countries’ relationships.

He also underscored the European business community’s growing interest in the Philippines.

“The EU business community in the Philippines continues to do good work, in their own interest and in the interest of the country,” he said.

Since 2015, three new EU diplomatic missions have been established, the ambassador said. These are Hungary, Poland and Sweden.

“We are now 15 up from 12,” Jessen said, noting that the increase is “a tangible reflection of the EU’s increased interest in the Philippines” and “of the increased weight of the Philippine economy and of its diplomacy.”

Jessen is optimistic the Philippine economy will continue to grow – boosted partly by the country’s young and educated workforce.

“Looking forward, I am confident that the Philippines will do well. I pin much of that confidence on the young, ambitious, increasingly better educated workforce that will join the job market in the years to come,” he said, adding the government has the task to unleash this great potential.

“The EU continues to stand ready to work with the Philippine government and with the Duterte administration to channel this great potential into further sustainable economic growth and to together promote a rules-based system, where the voices of all countries are fully respected: a system which in my view serves both our interests best,” he said.

“I will now like to bring a toast for President Duterte, wishing him success, good health, and a long life,” he said.

Jessen said he is looking forward to better Philippines-EU relations, citing shared interests.

“We can still do better, and I hope that during the years to come we will together fully benefit from the many shared interests that we have,” he said.

In early 2017, Duterte had repeatedly lambasted the EU for supposedly meddling in the country’s domestic affairs, following the bloc’s criticisms of his administration’s bloody war on drugs.

The President had also threatened to expel EU envoys “within 24 hours.” The government likewise rejected billions of pesos in foreign aid from the EU.

In the same year, however, Duterte appointed the late senator Edgardo Angara as special envoy to EU.     

EUROPEAN UNION FRANZ JESSEN PARTNERSHIP AND COOPERATION AGREEMENT
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