Cooperation: The government expressed its sympathy and solidarity with Europe in regard to the recent terrorist attacks in France, at the sixth biennial consultations between Bhutan and the European Union held in Thimphu, yesterday.

“The recent terrorist attacks in Paris were abominable and we condemn them in the strongest terms as possible,” foreign affairs director general, Kinga Singye said, in his opening statement.

On behalf of the government and people of Bhutan, the director general expressed “deep sympathy” and solidarity to the EU and to France in particular.

He also said that Bhutan values its relations with the EU and was very grateful for its support.

The EU tripled its developmental assistance to Bhutan last year by committing Euro 42 million for 2014-2020 term. The committed funds will be used in the good governance and renewable natural resources sectors.

“We assure you that every cent provided will be directed to the intended purpose,” Kinga Singye said to the EU delegation.

Besides the bilateral cooperation, Bhutan also benefits from a number of regional mechanisms that the EU supports most notably in the areas of climate change and disaster management.

Speaking to Kuensel, the leader of the EU delegation and EU division head of the SAARC countries, Maria Castillo Fernandez, said that she had pointed out to the Bhutanese delegation that the recent terrorist attacks in France were attacks on European system, values and way of life. She said that the attacks were not only challenges for Europe but the world.

Ms Fernandez said that the EU would like to see Bhutan as a partner cooperating together with the EU on all international forums to challenge and combat the threat of terrorism.

Ms Fernandez pointed out that Bhutan and the EU are partners in multilateral forums of the UN and that bilateral relations are in “excellent shape”.

She pointed out that Bhutan and the EU will declare an enhancement of cooperation on climate change next week. She added that Bhutan is a model for the world today, when it comes to policies on the environment, democratization process, protection of human rights and rule of law.

To further enhance relations, Ms Fernandez said that a representative of the EU investment bank was also included in the delegation to explore possibilities of long term investment areas in Bhutan.

Another EU delegation member, Jorge De La Caballeria, who is the EuropeAid unit head for South Asia, pointed out that it is important to note that EU support is being mainly channeled through national budget support, a practise not followed elsewhere.

He also pointed out that EU assistance had been tripled based on the achievements and path followed by the government.

The biennial consultations provide a regular mechanism for the two sides to review all aspects of the bilateral relations, including development cooperation, between Bhutan and the EU.

Bhutan and the EU established diplomatic relations in 1985.

By Gyalsten K Dorji