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Press Release


  September 25, 2003

First-ever consultations between the Organization of American States (OAS) and the European Union (EU) reviewed a range of Western Hemisphere issues on which the two entities could increase cooperation, OAS Assistant Secretary General Luigi Einaudi said.

The eight-member EU delegation that visited OAS headquarters on Wednesday was headed by Italy, which holds the EU presidency and was represented by Ambassador Ludovico Ortona, Director General for the Americas in Italy’s Foreign Affairs Ministry. Ireland, which will succeed Italy to the EU presidency in January, was represented by Patrick Walshe, Assistant Secretary General of Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs. Representatives of the European Commission and the EU Council also attended.

The talks revealed a surprising number of areas that lend themselves to greater cooperation between the OAS and the EU, from general principles such as democratic governance and human rights to specific projects geared to combat terrorism and drug trafficking, Einaudi and Ortona agreed. They said the two organizations would continue consultations and explore the possibility of developing a formal framework for cooperation.

The EU delegation first met with the OAS political bodies, led by the Permanent Council Chairman, Ambassador Raymond Valcin of Haiti, and ambassadors representing the hemisphere’s sub-regions: the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Central American Group (GRUCA), as well as Canada and the United States. The EU representatives then met with directors of key units within the OAS General Secretariat to discuss current inter-American projects and activities.

“We hope this is the beginning of a deeper relationship between the OAS and the EU, which already have a history of cooperation,” Einaudi said. He added that the OAS would invite EU representatives to attend a meeting of experts on democratic governance, scheduled for November.

In the last five years, the EU has contributed several million dollars toward OAS projects, including anti-narcotics initiatives, election observation, sustainable development efforts, and special missions to Venezuela and Haiti. Fourteen of the 15 EU member states have permanent observer status with the OAS. The EU itself obtained OAS observer status on November 18, 1989.

Reference: E-182/03