Speakers’ delegation visit boosts NZ – Europe ties 29 Jun 2012
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New Zealand’s political links and historical ties with Europe will be invigorated by the upcoming visit to the continent by a parliamentary delegation, the Speaker, Dr The Rt Hon Lockwood Smith, said today.
“The delegation members will meet with political leaders in Britain, Croatia, and Brussels, reinforcing existing links and sharing thoughts and ideas on the current challenges facing the global economy.
“Our extensive programme is designed to enable our delegation to engage with three key European countries at a time when global events are occurring that will have an impact on New Zealand’s relationship with these countries.
“In Britain, we will be meeting with key parliamentary officials, including the Speakers of the Houses of Commons and Lords, as well as some Members of Parliament. We also hope to have an opportunity to receive an update on Britain’s position on the EU financial situation, and a briefing on the Common Agricultural Policy discussions currently taking place. Both of these issues will have an impact on how New Zealand engages with Britain and the EU into the future.
“Our visit to Croatia will focus on gaining a better understanding of the Croatian Parliament, especially of its current experience of seeking membership to the EU. Among those we will meet are both the Prime Minister and the President of the Republic of Croatia, the Deputy Speaker of the Croatian Parliament, and the Head of the Croatian Chamber of the Economy. We will also have a chance to visit the Prodravka Food Processing factory and accompanying farm. Prodravka is a highly innovative and respected model of what efficient, environmentally conscious food production could look like, so it will be interesting for the delegation to visit given New Zealand’s strong agricultural history and potential in this area. We will also be making a brief stopover in Dubrovnik to meet with officials there and hopefully to engage with the significant New Zealand/Croatian business community of the Dubrovnik-Neretva region.
“Meetings in Brussels will present an opportunity to engage with both the European Parliament and the Belgian Parliament, and we will be meeting with senior officials from both organisations. We will be having further discussions around the EU Common Agricultural Policy, as well as a comprehensive briefing on the current state of the Euro-zone.
“Our time in Belgium will be rounded off by a day of visits to significant World War One sites in Western Flanders to pay tribute to the New Zealand soldiers who fought and died in that great conflict. I will take the opportunity to lay a wreath under the Menin Gate during The Last Post ceremony. This will mark the 28,906th time the ceremony has taken place since it started on 2 July 1928. It has been carried out almost continuously since 1928 under the Menin Gate with the exception of the period of the town’s occupation during the Second World War.”
“I believe that this visit will strengthen New Zealand’s links to both old allies and new friends in Europe during testing times for the region and indeed the global community” Dr Smith said.
The delegation, led by Dr Smith, includes Deputy Chair of the Social Services Committee Melissa Lee (National), Junior Whip Darien Fenton (Labour) Musterer Gareth Hughes (Green) and Denis O’Rourke (NZ First). The visit will take place from 1 – 14 July.
(New Zealand Government)
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