THE European Union (EU) has appointed Paola Amadei as its new ambassador to Lesotho.
She presented her credentials to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, 'Matšepo Molise Ramakoae, last Thursday.
She replaced Christian Manahl, who left the country last month after spending four years in Maseru.
Ms Amadei said she was humbled to follow in the footsteps of Dr Manahl "who during his mandate developed a great empathy with the country and its people and worked in a true spirit of partnership with the government and non-governmental partners".
She said the EU was committed to continue stepping up its international role in the defence of peace, sustainable development and multilateralism, relying on the support of like-minded countries like Lesotho.
The first woman to lead the EU mission in Lesotho, Ms Amadei is the EU's 12th ambassador to Lesotho. She met with Ms Ramakoae last Thursday and renewed the EU's commitment to cooperate with Lesotho in areas like water, energy and governance among others.
"The EU will renew its commitment to Lesotho beyond 2021 with a new multi-annual strategy that deepens our cooperation in the water, energy, governance, and social protection sectors. Based on consultations with our national and international partners, including civil society, this strategy aims at promoting a green and resilient economy, good governance, and a peaceful and just society," Ms Amadei said.
"After meeting with the Kingdom's Minister of Foreign Affairs, 'Matšepo Molise Ramakoae, I look forward in the coming days to being able to exchange views with the colleagues in the United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK) embassies but also with women in leading positions in the government, in the private sectors, in the NGOs and international organisations.
"We are now in a situation where women in leadership have reached a critical mass and can aspire to make a difference, something that was more difficult when I started my career over thirty years ago," Ms Amadei said.
She is also hoping to help Lesotho end impunity, eradicate gender-based violence while empowering women during her tenure.
"I hope we can make a difference with the EU helping Lesotho to end impunity for gender-based violence and above all to prevent it, to changing attitudes and empowering women and girls. I hope to count on the cooperation of many partners and that this can become a cause to bring together men and women, Basotho and foreigners, young and old," Ms Amadei said.
Ms Ramakoae yesterday said she was expecting the seamless engagement between the EU and Lesotho to continue. She said she was also excited that the EU had deployed the first female ambassador.
"I do not think our engagement is going to be too different from the one we had with Christian (Manahl). We already have multiple programmes that the new ambassador is taking over. I am happy that she is the first woman to head the EU delegation in Lesotho and that she is highly experienced.
"What we have had so far was just a courtesy call and we will have a proper meeting soon to detail all the programmes that the EU is helping Lesotho with," Ms Ramakoae said.
Ms Amadei has vast experience in European institutions and international organisations.
She began her professional career at the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago in Chile. She later joined the EU, where she worked in the areas of international relations and development cooperation. Between 2016 and 2020, she was the Executive Director of the EU-LAC (European Union, Latin American and Caribbean) Foundation, an international organisation based in Hamburg, Germany.
She has served as the EU Ambassador to Jamaica, Belize, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, the Cayman Islands and to Eritrea.
Ms Amadei holds an economics degree from the University of Genoa, Italy, a Masters in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in the United States of America and she is an alumna of the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium.