Joint Press Communiqué: Fifth Round of Pakistan-European Union Strategic Dialogue
Brussels: By Rasheed Ahmed
On 3 November 2020, the European Union (EU) and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (Pakistan) met for the 5th round of the EU-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue. The dialogue was held via videoconference between Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the EU and Vice-President of the European Commission, and Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan.
During the meeting, they discussed the growing momentum of the Pakistan-EU relations based on the Strategic Engagement Plan signed in June 2019 and agreed to make efforts towards its comprehensive implementation in all areas of cooperation, including through strengthening of existing and new institutional engagements.
Foreign Minister Qureshi and High Representative Borrell reviewed the ongoing cooperation on security between Pakistan and the EU. The EU appreciates the progress made by Pakistan towards the meaningful implementation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Action Plan as acknowledged by the FATF Plenary meeting held in October 2020. The EU encouraged Pakistan to complete the Action Plan. To further their engagement, both sides agreed to hold the first meeting of the new EU-Pakistan Security Dialogue in 2021, including on the fight against terrorism.
Foreign Minister Qureshi recognized the EU’s financial support of Euro 150 million to help address the Covid19 pandemic in Pakistan. The EU appreciates Pakistan’s assistance in repatriation of stranded EU citizens due to flight disruptions. Both sides discussed ways to further alleviate the social and economic consequences of the ongoing pandemic. In this context, they exchanged views on promoting international cooperation to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic and recognized the significance of international debt relief for developing countries.
The High Representative/Vice-President and the Foreign Minister expressed a strong political commitment towards the GSP+ preferential trade regime, through which the EU provides significantly reduced customs duties for countries that implement 27 international conventions related to human rights, labour rights, protection of the environment and good governance. They agreed to utilise the GSP+ to its full potential, including by addressing the demand side contraction due to COVID-19 pandemic. The High Representative raised concerns including on the death penalty and the misuse of the blasphemy law. He expressed appreciation for the intention to adopt the anti-torture bill.
Foreign Minister Qureshi raised deep concerns over the resurgence of Islamophobic acts in some EU Member States that have hurt the sentiments of Muslims across the world, including in Pakistan. High Representative Borrell raised deep concerns about recent terrorist acts in Europe. Both sides deplored the killing of innocent people and reaffirmed their resolve to strengthen and protect human rights as well as fundamental freedoms, and further promote inter-faith harmony, religious tolerance and co-existence.
The EU informed about its New Pact on Migration and Asylum. The EU and Pakistan agreed to work towards a comprehensive dialogue on migration and mobility, as envisaged under the Strategic Engagement Plan.
High Representative Borrell and Foreign Minister Qureshi also discussed ways to enhance their bilateral cooperation to address climate change.
High Representative Borrell and Foreign Minister Qureshi exchanged views on regional issues and agreed on a Joint Declaration on Afghanistan (see attached Joint Declaration).
Foreign Minister Qureshi apprised the EU about the recent developments in the region. Foreign Minister Qureshi expressed Pakistan’s deep concerns about human rights violations by India in Jammu and Kashmir, and its attempts to change the demography of the disputed territory. High Representative Borrell remarked that the EU is following the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir closely. He underlined the need for restraint, de-escalation of tensions and resolution of the dispute through dialogue and constructive political and diplomatic engagement.
Foreign Minister Qureshi and High Representative Borrell exchanged views on other regional issues and reaffirmed their endeavor for promoting peace and prosperity through collaborative efforts.
Foreign Minister Qureshi and High Representative Borrell agreed to further enhance Pakistan-EU mutual collaboration and engagement.