President Yoweri Museveni received and held a meeting with the European Union delegation in Uganda led by the European Union Ambassador to Uganda H.E. Attilio Pacifici.
The European envoys that included the heads of missions of Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Hungary, Iceland, Netherland, Poland, Austria and Sweden met the President at State House Entebbe.
The President was meeting the envoys as part of the biannual Article 8 Political Dialogue with the European Union in accordance with Article 8 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement.
During the meeting President Museveni thanked the European Union countries for emphasizing trade other than aid when dealing with Uganda that has seen Uganda’s earning from trade with European Union triple the European Union Aid to Uganda in the past few years.
The President described the trade between European Union and Uganda and the African continent as a whole as complimentary as the two mutually benefit from such trade. He however appealed to the European Union envoys to attract more European companies to invest in Uganda and take advantage of the ready market in Uganda and Africa as a whole as well as the open tax-free and quarter free market of the USA and Europe that was also negotiated.
On the status of the large number of refugees hosted by Uganda, President Museveni told the European Union envoys that the Uganda government policy was to welcome and host people who are running away from trouble but noted that the country faces challenges of resources especially for food, shelter, education and health and asked the envoys and their governments to support Uganda as she continues to receive and host these refugees.
On reports by the E.U ambassadors that Uganda was to legislate against sexual minorities as a way persecuting them, the President said that government has no policy that aims at persecuting homosexual but neither does it not promote it because it is seen as deviation.
“The different groups promoting homosexuality are the ones creating undue conflict between themselves and society through unnecessary provocation. In Africa even heterosexual is confidential although it is normal. It is not good to impose on others your way of life and those groups need to understand that” he said.
On Environmental degradation, the President said that government shares the E.U envoys concern on the environment but attributed the problem to the structural nature of the population as more people are in agriculture as a way of life thus continuously attacking and degrading the land, the forest cover, water bodies and swamps. He however said that steps are being taken to rid the population of environmentally sensitive areas.
On the political situation in the country ahead of 2021 elections, the President told the EU envoys that government is committed to ensuring free and fair elections, adding that, relevant government organs are handling the necessary reforms. He however said that there has been some form of provocation by some political actors that have failed to respect the laws governing public assemblies.
The President and the EU envoys also discussed a number of issues related to the cooperation between the European Union and Uganda, the Great lakes region and the African continent.
The European Union Ambassadors commended President MUseveni for his great leadership that he has offered Uganda that has seen the country remain peaceful and achieve remarkable economic growth. They also commended him for working for peace in the region especially for hosting the tripartite summit in Uganda aimed at ending the conflict in South Sudan.
The Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, the NRM secretary General Kasule Lumumba, the Ministers of Foreign affairs and works, attended the meeting among others.