Welcome Speech by
Dr Olivier Cogels
Chief Executive Officer
Mekong River Commission
Mekong River Commission Secretariat
Vientiane, Lao PDR
5 April 2005
Your Excellency Mr Asang Laoly, Vice-Prime Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Your Excellency Mr Somphong Mongkhonvilay, Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office, Chairman of the MRC Council for 2004/2005, Member of the MRC Council for Lao PDR
Mr Siripong Hungspreug, Director-General, Department of Water
Ministry of Water Resources and Environment, Chairman of the Joint Committee 2004/2005
Your Excellency Dr Pham Hong Giang, Vice Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Alternate Member of the MRC Council for Viet Nam
Your Excellency Mr Sin Niny, Vice-Chairman of Cambodia National
Member of the MRC Joint Committee for Cambodia
Your Excellency Mr Hou Taing Eng, Secretary General, Cambodia National Mekong Committee, Alternate Member of the MRC Joint Committee for Cambodia,
Your Excellency Mr Sitaheng Rasphone, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Vice Chairman of the Lao National Mekong Committee
Mr Samai Chiemchindaratana, Deputy Director General Thai National Mekong Committee
Mr Nguyen Hong Toan, Secretary General Viet Nam National Mekong Committee, Member of the MRC Joint Committee for Viet Nam.
Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the Mekong River Commission I am delighted to welcome you all here tonight to share with us in our 10th anniversary celebration.
In particular I would like to extend my gratitude to H.E. Mr Asang Laoly, Vice-Prime Minister of the Lao PDR for honouring us with his presence on this special day and to offer a special welcome to our distinguished guests from our member countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam.
I am also delighted to welcome the members of the diplomatic community and am pleased to have the opportunity to reciprocate the many invitations I have received to functions held in Vientiane since the MRC Secretariat moved here last June. Occasions such as this provide us with a splendid opportunity to renew acquaintances and forge new bonds and, as many of your governments are among our valued donors. I wish to express here again our very sincere gratitude for all your support to our organisation and our basin-wide development programme, contributing to poverty alleviation, to socio-economic development, and environment protection.
We are here together to celebrate an important day in the life of the Mekong River Commission. Ten years ago, representatives of four governments signed an historic agreement, which became the basis of a remarkable international cooperation phenomenon in the water sector. These ten years have shown an increasing commitment of four countries to working together to achieve a common sustainable development goal, with a high respect of each other’s priorities and specificities. Today, the Mekong River Commission may prove to be a model for the world. Already in other developing nations it is cited as the example to follow.
Since 1995 the MRC has achieved many milestones. Our programmes have expanded and our work is being recognised throughout the world. This would of course not have been possible without increasing donor support for what can now be considered a major regional cooperation programme for Integrated Water Resources Management of the Mekong Basin, within the broader perspective of the GMS programme promoted by ADB.
The backbone of our programme is our Basin Development Planning process. With this, we hope to achieve something that all nations who share international rivers should be able to achieve one day: “joint planning of a common and well balanced investment programme at basin scale, promoting win-win solutions for all countries of the basin”. I strongly believe that this approach, which is based on trust and a shared vision of a common future, is the best guarantee for peaceful and sustainable development in the region.
Strengthening our cooperation with the upstream countries is one of my priorities. These past months, some important steps forward have been made and I trust that constructive technical cooperation may be further developed in a pragmatic way through joint projects in areas such as navigation safety, environmental monitoring, dam operation, flood management and drought management. This will help to build up our mutual understanding and trust.
We are thus confident that with a constructive and integrated approach, based on close cooperation between sectors and between countries, we will be able to meet our goal of an economically prosperous, socially just and environmentally sound river basin.
Your Excellency Mr Asang Laoly,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you know the MRC Secretariat moved to Vientiane in the middle of last year and I would like to take this opportunity to once again express our special thanks to the government of Lao PDR, for its kind and generous contribution of this splendid building and to the country for making us so welcome.
And so now it is my great pleasure to invite our honoured guest the Vice-Prime Minister of the Lao PDR, H.E. Mr Asang Laoly to speak to us tonight.
Thank you for your attention.