(Editor’s Note: THEPHILBIZNEWS is publishing this letter of outgoing EU Ambassador Franz Jessen as his farewell message to the Filipino people.)
Dear friends in the Philippines,
I will be leaving the Philippines today after having served four years as the EU Ambassador to the Philippines. It has been an honour to work with the people of the Philippines. You are blessed with a wonderful country, great traditions, a rich, but also complicated and difficult past.
Looking forward, I remain optimistic that you and your country will do very well. My optimism is based on your intrinsic strength. We see that it in here, we see it in Europe, where the Overseas Filipino Workers do an incredible job, and we see how easily they adjust and enjoy the European way of life while working and living in Europe.
Looking back, during the past four years we have seen a global questioning of the traditional ways of managing international relations, and also of how to conduct national policies. Of course it has been fascinating to observe some of these global changes sitting in a front seat here in Manila. At times it has been a challenge not to be absorbed, not to be overly distracted, by the new language used. But to continue to focus on the underlying relations, the underlying shared interests that the Philippines and the EU enjoy and the underlying commonalities of the aspirations of our people. The Philippines and the EU remain free market economies, remain to be democracies, remain value-driven societies with vibrant press and very active civil societies.
I throughly enjoyed interacting with the Philippine people: students, business people, the diplomatic community, politicians, civil society, journalists, writers, local and central government officials, workers, and of course, you, the many friends I was blessed with while working here.
The friendships that I have made allowed me to have a different, richer, perspective on your country. Just yesterday evening, I was touched by the kindness of the Sionil Jose family hosting a farewell reception for me. Touched because of the admiration and respect I have for the writings of Frankie Sionil Jose, and also touched because of the richness and variety of the discussion during such an evening: learning about the Baybayin history, Philippine food, how it was, as a young man, to experience the last days of the war in Manila, and to share views on the best bike trails around Manila.
Did we make sufficient progress over the past four years? There were highlights: the EU Council President Tusk visited, the EU Foreign Minister Mogherini visited, and so did Trade Commissioner Malmstrom. The EU-Philippine Partnership and Cooperation Agreement was ratified and has now entered into force.
All relationships need to be maintained, this applies to personal as well as to international relations. We have succeeded in this. Relations also need to develop, and I am by nature quite ambitious, and would have liked to see even greater growth in our bilateral cooperation. This said, I am grateful for the growth that I have seen in my personal friendships with you, I could not have wished for more. I will continue to nurture these friendships and will see you soon again.