President Akufo-Addo being assisted by the Director of State Protocol to present a stool to Ambassador William Hanna
It was an emotionally-charged atmosphere when the European Union (EU) Ambassador in Ghana, William Hanna, paid a courtesy call on President Akufo-Addo at the Flagstaff House yesterday.
He was there to bid farewell to the president as the four years of his duty tour of the country had ended.
It was obviously a sad day for Hanna as he was going to leave Ghana.
That, he explained, “I’ve had a wonderful time here; I’ve visited all the regions here in Ghana, enjoyed also the wildlife, the habitat, the environment in Ghana.”
Having enjoyed all that the country presented him, Mr Hanna made a last request, “Mr. President, my one last request; I’d like to come back if I may as a private citizen. My daughter is still working [here]; she works as a health economist for DFID…she just had my third grandson who was born in the UK, but she is coming back next week with the grandchildren so I’d love to be able to come back if I may, not in a diplomatic capacity, but just to visit my grandchildren and visit Ghana again as a private citizen.
“I was very pleased to be assigned to Ghana; I knew the country from years ago, from the end of the 1990s when I visited, so I’ve always thought it will be an interesting country to come back to and indeed, it has proved to be an interesting time between the European Union and Ghana.”
During his tenure of office, he said the relationship between Ghana and the European Union became strengthened, while expressing joy over President Akufo-Addo’s determination to move the country beyond aid, saying, “We agree very much with that approach.”
The outgoing envoy stressed, “I was pleased that during my time here it was decided to ratify the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)…we still hope that we will have an agreement between Europe and the European Union and the whole of West Africa because it’s the best approach for the way forward.”
The focus now, he said, is on investment, the business climate and support for the private sector.
According to him, that was what impelled the visit of a number of leaders of European countries to the country last year.
For him, that alone is a mark of confidence in Ghana whiles touting Ghana’s democratic credentials.
He commended the country for peaceful elections in December 2016, with the hope that a lot of countries would learn from the Ghana experience.
Ambassador Hanna also commended highly President Akufo-Addo’s commitment to fight corruption, especially with the appointment of his political opponent, Martin Amidu, as the Special Prosecutor.
President Akufo-Addo could not but warmly accept the envoy’s request saying, “Historically, Irish people have had a good impact on Ghana and somehow, the Ghanaian people like them, adding that they found Ghana a comfortable place to live and work. You will be extremely welcomed as a private citizen.”
He jokingly said, “I will be upset as long as I’m in office, even when I’m not in office and you come to Ghana and you don’t look for me; so I expect that we should be seeing each other.”
The president assured Hanna, “The legacy of your work will continue. It is a legacy that has helped us.”
President Akufo-Addo averred, “We have been beneficiaries of a great deal of consideration, money, advice, institutional support across a broad area of our national life and it is investment in Ghana of the EU that Ghanaians appreciate very much. We also appreciate the manner, the attitudes that have accompanied it; the demonstration on your part that you are dealing with a country that you very much want to see thrive, the determination to take on difficult issues, but all of it has been that we feel very comfortable dealing with the European Union.”
According to the president, “It’s a journey that our people are determined to continue; we believe that we will look back on our history that indeed the principles of democratic accountability are extremely important for the progress and prosperity of us; so the commitment we have is a commitment that is shared not just by the political elite, but also the ordinary people across our country, broadly across the nation.”
By Charles Takyi-Boadu, Presidential CorrespondentRead Full Story