Lissu wants Tanzania to come clean on deteriorating relationship with EU

WRITING from Tienen, Belgium, on Sunday November 4th, 2018, Member of Parliament Tundu Lissu, currently undergoing treatment in Belgium, has called on the government of Tanzania to come clean on the deteriorating relationship between his country and the European Union. Read his full statement below:
Today I propose to discuss the issue of the EU Ambassador to Tanzania, Roeland van der Geer (pictured), being recalled to the EU Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, ‘for consultations.’  I think it’s a very serious matter indeed, and it merits public debate and an official clarification from our country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Relations.
When a diplomat is ‘recalled for consultations’ with his or her home state, it’s usually a sign of dramatic deterioration in diplomatic relations between the sending state, in this case the EU, and the receiving state, in this case Tanzania. In diplomatic practice, it’s often a step taken before the official break up of diplomatic relations between the sending state and the receiving state.
As an economic, political and diplomatic block, the EU brings together some 28 European member states, most of whom have maintained close diplomatic, economic and political relations with Tanzania since our independence.
The EU has been a major economic partner with Tanzania for decades. According to current data, foreign direct investment (FDI) from the EU plus Switzerland and Norway grew from €1bn in 2009 to €2.2bn (approx. TZS 5.5trn) in 2013, an increase of a whopping 120%. Trade with the EU currently stands at about €2bn (approx. TZS 5trn).
Tanzania has also been a recipient of substantial financial support from the EU for many years. The trading block has provided us with direct budget support worth many hundreds of millions of Euros, which has benefited the people of Tanzania in many fields, especially in the provision of social services and development projects.
Indeed, on 3rd March, 2017, the recalled Ambassador van der Geer signed a Financing Agreement with the Government of Tanzania, under which the EU committed to provide €205mn (approx. TZS 512bn) in budget support for the implementation of the Second Five Year Development Plan 2016/17 – 2020/2021. That sum is part of €676mn (approx. TZS 1.7trn) in EU development funding to Tanzania over a period 2014 – 2020
The recall of the EU Ambassador should, therefore, be a matter of considerable concern to the people of Tanzania. It is imperative that the Government of Tanzania clarify the reasons for which Ambassador van der Geer has been recalled to Brussels for consultations.
Deterioration in diplomatic relations between the EU and Tanzania would be very costly to the welfare of the people of Tanzania. We, the people of Tanzania, should not allow our country to be turned into an international pariah, ‘a skunk of the world’, to use Nelson Mandela’s apt description of apartheid South Africa.
Our diplomatic isolation will have serious consequences to our economic relations and social well-being. The Government of President John Pombe Magufuli should, therefore, come clean on what’s happening in our country’s relations with the EU.
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