Premier Stephen McNeil will travel to France, Germany and England to help promote trade, tourism and investment opportunities, May 31 to June 9. Today, May 31, Premier McNeil will board WestJet’s inaugural direct flight from Halifax to Paris. This new route is an important transportation link for Nova Scotia to key European markets. “We have built successful trading relationships in Europe and want to continue to advance economic opportunities and investment, as well as encourage visitors to come to our beautiful province,” said Premier McNeil. “With the recent EU trade agreement and our ongoing, historic trading relationship with the U.K. it is an important time to look at enhancing export opportunities for Nova Scotia.” The mission includes: meetings with company officials in the energy, financial investment, transportation logistics and information and communication technology sectors promotion of Nova Scotia seafood and wine at culinary events in Paris and Hamburg, Germany laying wreaths at three war memorial sites in France –Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial, the Thiepval Memorial and the Courcelette Canadian memorial a Nova Scotia-WestJet reception at the ambassador to France’s official residence in Paris to promote the new route meeting with Tourism Nova Scotia in-market representative in Cologne meeting and tour at the Cargojet facility in Cologne a celebration of Dalhousie University’s 200th anniversary at Canada House in London Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance Karen Casey will join the mission in Germany, which also includes stops in Munich and Cologne. Ms. Casey will also lead meetings in London with leaders in the financial investment industry. Officials from Intergovernmental Affairs, Tourism Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Business Inc., Department of Energy, Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture and executives from Halifax International Airport Authority will participate in some activities. The EU is Nova Scotia’s third largest goods export market after United States and China. Exports have averaged $429 million over the last five years. The leading exports are seafood, paper and forestry products, and fruit.
Speaking at a press briefing at UN Headquarters, UNAMSIL’s Chief of Public Information, Margaret Novicki, said the district-by-district disarmament process, which was expected to be concluded by the end of the year, would lead to a restoration of State authority around the country, the return of refugees and the holding of national elections in the early part of next year. But the path towards peace hasn’t been easy, she said.”Last year we had a rather difficult baptism of fire with the collapse of the peace process, the hostage taking of our peacekeepers and the withdrawal of major troop contributors,” Ms. Novicki said. “This time last year there were very few people who were optimistic about the prospects for peace in Sierra Leone.” However, in spite of the obstacles, the Mission is making steady progress and is now in the midst of a renewed peace process, she said. In addition, the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) was transforming itself into a political party to contest next year’s elections. According to Ms. Novicki, one element that had contributed to the significant changes in Sierra Leone was the Mission leadership’s “patient painstaking diplomacy” – which had been necessary to rebuild confidence among the parties to the conflict – backed by an adequately robust military force, now close to its authorized troop strength of 17,500 soldiers. UNAMSIL’s approach over the last year had “many lessons for other UN peacekeeping missions in an era when there are many complex internal civil conflicts to be addressed,” she said.Another reason for the progress in Sierra Leone was the fact that the Mission had worked very hard to regain public support for and confidence in UNAMSIL and the UN. “I will say from my own perspective that it has not been an easy process,” she added, noting that the country had a very high illiteracy rate – almost 80 per cent – and normal channels of communication were either hard-pressed, non-existent or had simply been destroyed by a decade of civil war.”So we rely primarily on the civilian component of UNAMSIL to work in this setting,” she said. “Our civilian police and our civil affairs section are working very hard to assist in restoring State authority throughout the country. We are helping the police to redeploy, to re-establish the judicial system, and to reinstitute traditional leadership.”