VILLAGE URUGWIRO - Six new envoys who presented their credentials to President Paul Kagame yesterday said they were optimistic about theeir missions.
The diplomats from the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Italy, Australia and India, said this while speaking to journalists at the Novotel hotel, en-route from Village Urugwiro.
A visibly cheery Frans Makken from the Netherlands, who unlike the others has been in the country for some five weeks, told reporters that his experience has been encouraging.
“I must say that my experience has been extremely very good and stimulating. It is surprising how a small country like Rwanda can be so interesting and so central,” he said, stressing that Rwanda’s recent Parliamentary elections had hit the headlines in his country, for one.
Some 44 women were elected to Rwanda’s 80-seat legislature in last month’s election.
“A majority of women in parliament, I think, shows a progressiveness that is exciting. So, I must say, I am full of confidence my stay in Rwanda will be interesting and pleasant,” Makken said.
He added that his first priority was the bilateral development program, which he said presently has a budget that makes Rwanda one of the main priorities to receive development support from the Netherlands.
Belgium’s Ivo Goemans said he was feeling very welcome in the country and emphasized building on what he considered as the two countries’ already strong relations.
Acknowledging that he had much to accomplish in many fields, Goemans also revealed what he made of the current political developments in the region, particularly allegations that Rwanda was involved in the Congo [DRC] question.
“We share the Rwandan government’s concerns and I will fight together with other diplomats. I for one will fight against false rumors. What we want, as everybody else, is peace in the region,” he underscored.
India’s Niraj Srivastava also added his voice on the matter.
“We will support the regional agreement on the issue. We will stand by the regional bodies on the question,” he said, further explaining that the support involved both diplomatic and political prop ups.
He added that in as far as development cooperation is concerned, the most important project is a hydro electric power that will add some 25 megawatts to the national grid.
This, he added, would be built with an Indian line of credit and by Indian companies.
“I had some discussions about the project with government officials today,” he said, adding that scholarships to Rwandan students were also very high on his list.
Italy’s Pietro Ballero and Poland‘s Anna Grupinska stressed the significance of good relations and solidarity between the two respective countries.
The Polish envoy revealed plans to set up a school for the blind to be taught by Polish nuns and envisaged more commercial relations in the long term in order to make a difference.
“It would be lovely if some Polish students also came to learn about Africa and Rwanda, such a fantastic country,” she said, after mentioning the possibility of Rwandan students’ getting scholarships to study in Poland.
Australia’s Lisa Filipetto said that she was much honored to be the first Australian envoy in Rwanda following the establishment of diplomatic relations.
She also pointed at the possibility of future cooperation in education, trade and investment, among others.