Ghana-UK relations: A unique friendship built upon deep social and cultural links – High Commissioner Peter Jones

Peter Jones - British High Commissioner to Ghana

Last week we were very pleased that Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, the daughter of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, visited Ghana as part of a two-country visit to West Africa.

It was the most high-profile visit to Ghana from the UK this year. And it is the third visit by a member of the Royal family, and the second by HRH The Princess Royal, in the last five years.

This reflects the continued interest among members of the Royal family in Ghana, in its future development, in its relationship with the UK, and in our mutual interests in the Commonwealth.

A mix of tradition and modernity featured strongly in HRH The Princess Royal’s visit to Ghana. She undertook a series of engage­ments designed to celebrate the strength and depth of the bilateral relationship.

She, for example, called on the President at the Osu Castle, celebrated links between the UK and Ghana Armed Forces, and received briefings on the work undertaken in support of Ghana’s continued development by the UK Government’s Department for International Development.

In addition to acknowledging these exist­ing strong links between our two nations, HRH The Princess Royal had the opportuni­ty to look at new areas of growth, for Ghana and for UK business.

She saw how the Tullow Oil-led opera­tion is supporting the development of Ghana’s off-shore oil industry, a key contri­bution to the rapid development of Ghana’s economy, and a pillar upon which Ghana’s remarkable dynamic growth is being built.

Another important element of HRH The Princess Royal’s visit was thanking those involved in maintaining the significant range of people-to-people links that underpinned the bilateral relationship.

HRH The Princess Royal had the oppor­tunity to visit the local operations of some of the charities and non-governmental organisa­tions of which she is patron – VSO, Opportunity International and Latitude. And she attended a special sports event between local schools linked to counterparts in the UK within the British Council’s school-link­ing programme.

HRH The Princess Royal’s visit to Ghana occurred at the same time as the meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government in Perth. Commonwealth Heads meet every two years to assess the work of the Commonwealth and to set its future course. This is an example of a shared interest between our two nations.

And our two governments also share objectives for the current meeting – both the UK and Ghana want to ensure that the Commonwealth remains a relevant organisa­tion, helping its members to tackle the chal­lenges of the modern world, working in mutual support and promoting each other’s development.

HRH The Princess Royal’s visit to Ghana comes at a tremendously exciting period for the UK, and for the UK/Ghana relationship. With excitement and interest at high levels since the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in April, two spectacular events are planned for 2012.

The first wi1l be the celebration in June 2012 in the UK and across the Commonwealth of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee Year – the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne. This will be swiftly followed in July 2012 by London’s hosting of the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games – the Greatest Show on Earth.

The Commonwealth’s two billion citi­zens will be cheering on their athletes at home, while many of them will visit the UK to experience the Games first-hand and the UK’s famous hospitality, energy and cultural and geographical diversity. This extraordi­nary sporting and cultural spectacle will be followed by Glasgow’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

During this time, I am confident that the UK will show not only why it is one of the most exciting places to live, visit and work in the world, but also why it is such an open, connected, dynamic and creative country that successfully combines history and tradition with modernity and innovation.

And the UK/Ghana relationship will, over the next 12 months, develop in new and enhanced ways.

As Ghana prepares for its four-yearly elections, the UK will be ready to help sup­port the democratic process, promoting bilat­eral trade to boost both of our economies, and finding new and innovative ways in which the people-to-people links can be recognised and harnessed.

We hope to see many people at the London 2012 Olympic venues supporting Ghana’s athletes – for example Margaret Simpson in the heptathlon and Ghana’s “Black Bombers” in the boxing ring.

The UK and Ghana already enjoy a spe­cial relationship, a unique friendship built upon deep social and cultural links. Both nations are steeped in a long history, sepa­rately and together. And both nations are adapting quickly to the challenges ahead of them.

These challenges are shared – continued economic growth, climate change, the threat from crime and lawlessness, the abuse of human rights, strengthening democracy around the world. And the opportunities to work in partnership to confront those chal­lenges are numerous.

By Peter Jones, British High Commissioner to Ghana

Source: Daily Graphic

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