Brussels: Bhutan Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering met His Excellency, Mr Janez Lenarcic, European Union Commissioner for Crises Management in Brussels on March 18, 2023.
The prime minister thanked him and all the member countries of the EU for the support extended to Bhutan so far, including the timely procurement and supply of COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic.
He shared about how Bhutan always fall back on His Majesty’s leadership and for the pandemic too, our unique strength was our King, who led by example, to steer the country out of the pandemic.
Prime minister also thanked EU for the additional support of EUR 7.3 million extended during his visit to Brussels in 2019, which had proven worthwhile in establishment of National Training Centre for Search and Rescue and the Water Flagship Program.
Commissioner Janex congratulated Bhutan and informed about the importance to draw lessons from the pandemic. The countries, despite witnessing SARs and MERs in recent decades, were anything but prepared.
He updated about EU’s preparedness initiatives, including building strategic reserves for similar crises in future.
Among others, the prime minister elaborated the effective contribution of Desuung, a voluntary institution initiated by His Majesty, that made all the difference during emergencies and particularly during the pandemic. He urged the Commissioner to find time and interest to closely follow the Desuung initiative to appreciate the significance.
Going forward, while preparing for future pandemics through activities like ongoing construction of quarantine facilities in border districts, prime minister also informed of His Majesty’s vision towards using pandemic as the “reset button” and the ongoing reforms of all sectors back home.
The prime minister also shared that Bhutan was gearing to graduate from LDC category this year. While it came with mixed emotions of excitement and nervousness, he said Bhutan was ready, thanks to development partners like the EU.
Commissioner Janex offered best wishes for Bhutan to realise His Majesty’s vision as soon as possible, reassuring that Bhutan’s decision to graduate from LDC meant that the country was on the right track. His Excellency also committed to work even more closely and offered all possible support.
More discussions were also held around impacts of climate change and disaster related programs for the two sides to work on hereafter. As the Commissioner suggested and in keeping with the program of the visit, the prime minister will meet other EU counterparts to discuss developmental related topics in the coming days.