The Liberian Government has bestowed upon outgoing European Union Ambassador, Attilio Pacifici, one of the nation’s highest distinctions for his numerous contributions and services to Liberia.Amb. Pacifici, who has served in the country since 2009 and has, in collaboration with government entities, overseen several development initiatives, was conferred upon by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf the distinction of Grand Commander in the Order of the Star of Africa.The ceremony took place at a farewell reception held in his honor in the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.As EU Ambassador to Liberia, Mr. Pacifici’s first engagement was to spearhead the restoration of Liberia’s ownership of EU development interventions through the re-opening of the National Authorizing Office (NAO). The NAO powers had been revoked during the crisis in the country. He met an NAO that fell short of the standard of a full Embassy in terms of staffing and capacity. His first milestone was the signing of a Financing Agreement that would inject EUR 20 million into Liberia’s National Budget as a grant for macroeconomic stability.President Sirleaf, in her remarks before conferring the distinction, described the Italian-born EU diplomat as a great man who had accomplished a lot for Liberia and its people.She said during Amb. Pacifici’s tenure, the EU was transformed into a full-fledged diplomatic mission and from a humanitarian institution to a development oriented body. It was also during his tenure that the Liberia-EU dialogue and many other initiatives were realized.She regretted that the astute Ambassador was leaving at a time when the country was still facing the onslaught of the Ebola virus disease thereby resulting in an atmosphere of a low key celebration. Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh, too, described the outgoing EU diplomat as not just a partner, but a dependable friend and a true advocate for Liberia.Min. Konneh noted that through the Ambassador’s advocacy and commitment to Liberia, the country has witnessed a gradual increase in direct budget support amounting to EUR 40 million and EUR 35 million in budget support for the health sector from the European Union.“This EUR 75 million constitutes support provided through our budget, and is only part of the total EUR 161 million we have received through the 10th EDF as support to the health, education, agriculture, infrastructure, fisheries and forestry sectors; and to capacity building for the General Auditing Commission and the Bureau of Customs and Excise,” Min. Konneh said.He indicated that upon Amb. Pacifici’s arrival in 2009, the country’s engagements with the EC were limited because there was not a full EU Delegation in Liberia; and more importantly, the EU Delegation in La Côte D’Ivoire was performing the duties of the NAO for Liberia, in managing the European Development Fund (EDF) allocation for the country because our NAO powers were revoked.“We met, and decided that our first goal as counterparts was to restore country ownership of EU development interventions, so that Liberia could optimally benefit from EU’s support to our national recovery and development agenda,” the Minister said.He recalled that in 2013, Liberia and the EU signed the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) allowing Liberia to export its forestry materials to EU at no cost. “This agreement has a six-year life span 2014-2020, during which we expect substantial revenue and job creation as we gain access to international markets for our natural resources.”He noted that with Amb. Pacifici’s leadership, Liberians are assured of the strong continuity of this level of support from the EU, as substantive investments were made in terms of financial and technical support to build the capacity of the NAO which manages the EDF and ensures transparency, mutual accountability and optimal allocation toward viable, impactful projects and programs.“Having supported us in building a credible and competent NAO, we can now look forward to the next envelope of EU support in the amount of EUR 279 million, which constitutes the 11th EDF, set for implementation from early next year up to 2020. This represents a 73 percent increase in the EDF allocation for Liberia.”Another immense contribution of the outgoing diplomat was what Minister Konneh termed, as the swiftness and impact of the EU’s support to Liberia at a time “when we needed all of our friends the most – when the Ebola Virus invaded our country.”“The Ambassador responded quickly,” he said, “by advocating strongly with the EU Headquarters for increased budget support for Liberia. As a result, we have received more than US $35 million as grant directly into our budget, since the beginning of the crisis.The EU Ambassador thanked the government for the honor and said that it has always been part of his nature to serve humanity, noting that when one wants to be a good diplomat, he/she should try to understand the culture and makeup of the people whom one works with.The Outgoing EU boss noted that most of his interactions with the government have culminated in actions that are critical for the future of the nation.He noted that he has always stood out as a diplomat because he likes what he does, interacting and knowing the needs of people. “There is nothing worse in life than doing something you don’t like.”He praised the Liberian people for the level of impression they had on him during his tour of duty in the country.Meanwhile, the traditional people of Liberia, through the Ministry of Internal Affairs, gowned the outgoing EU Ambassador and gave him the title of Paramount Chief of the newly created Tehr district in Bomi County. The district was recently created by the Johnson Sirleaf administration. The word “Tehr” is a Gola name meaning “Center.”The ceremony was attended by an array of high profile government officials, especially from the Executive branch including the conferrer, Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Internal Affairs, Agriculture and many others.The Doyen and several members of the Diplomatic Corps were also in attendance. The Chairman of the Governance Commission, Amos C. Sawyer, and several other eminent Liberians were also present.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
A manhunt continues for a Moroccan national suspected to have been the driver of a van that ploughed into crowds on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas, killing 13, on Thursday.Hours later attackers struck again in Cambrils, 120 kilometres south of Barcelona, where a car rammed into pedestrians, killing one person.Catalonia’s regional police force confirmed there would be additional officers on duty outside the Camp Nou, but encouraged supporters to attend ‘calmly’.“The recommendation is to go calmly, to be able to enjoy a game of football and that people can go reassured because the security presence is adequate for the number of people attending,” said Albert Oliva, a spokesman for the Mossos d’Esquadra.“They are extraordinary and lamentable circumstances,” said Barcelona’s coach Ernesto Valverde © AFP/File / LLUIS GENEJust over 50 miles northeast of Barcelona, concrete road blocks were mounted outside Girona’s Estadi Montilivi as their first ever La Liga match against Atletico Madrid passed off safely in front of a near capacity 13,500 crowd.“They are extraordinary and lamentable circumstances,” said Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde on Saturday.However, Valverde hoped fans wouldn’t be dissuaded by security fears and show the same spirit as huge crowds that gathered in the city’s central Plaza de Catalunya on Friday to chants of “not afraid”.“We are calm. Moreover, we support the reaction of the people yesterday in Plaza Catalunya that ‘we are not afraid’,” added Valverde.“We have to stand up to these circumstances and the best way is by moving forward.“We know the way the world is, we are all potentially victims at any given moment, be it going to the metro station or going to a football ground.“But it is something you can’t control and we can’t hide.”– Maximum security –With the peak summer tourism season still in full swing and thousands of tourists expected to attend for the chance to see five-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, Barca said the “maximum possible” security measures would be put in place to reassure fans.“Given the increase in situations of danger, terrorism, the club have already taken measures to reinforce security,” said a Barcelona club spokesperson.“The rule is to apply the maximum possible measures, and in extraordinary situations like this, apply them much more strictly.”A minute’s silence will be held before all games in Spain’s first and second divisions this weekend.Barcelona players will also wear black armbands and shirts with ‘Barcelona’ replacing individual names on the back.Former Barca defender Marc Bartra, himself the victim of a terrorist attack when a bomb hit the Borussia Dortmund team bus in April, paid his respects by kissing his black armband after scoring in Dortmund’s 3-0 win at Wolfsburg in the German league on Saturday.On the field, Barca have had a dreadful start to the season as shorn of Neymar following his world record 222 million euro ($261 million) move to Paris Saint-Germain, the Catalans were swept aside 5-1 on aggregate by Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup.Yet, Valverde conceded events over the past few days had put his professional problems into perspective.“It is our job and we know tomorrow we have an important game, but it is a different day for everyone. “It makes you reflect at times when you have problems that everything is relative. It puts things in their place and that there are far more important things than small problems.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Barcelona’s new signing Paulinho Bezerra kicks a ball during his official presentation, at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, on August 17, 2017 © AFP/File / LLUIS GENEBarcelona, Spain, Aug 19 – A huge security presence on Sunday will oversee Barcelona’s first match since two terror attacks in Catalonia killed 14 people and left 120 more injured.Barca host Real Betis (1815GMT kick-off) at the club’s 99,000 capacity Camp Nou to open their La Liga campaign with the country still reeling from the most deadly attack on Spanish soil in 13 years.