After four years as the Ambassador of Germany to Samoa, Dr Anne-Marie Schleich, is returning with many fond memories of her time in the Pacific. She will also have many memories from New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Cook Islands.
With her term ending in July this year, she is visiting Samoa for the last time in her official capacity.
“Samoa can without a doubt be described as one of the most important members of the Pacific community,” she said.
“There is a certain sense for leadership, efficiency and its members of the bureaucracy are very well educated.
“All these things acquiesce to the foundation of the country’s political leadership, which is highly impressive to me, with Prime Minister Tuilaepa leading the way.”
The Ambassador made the comments at the home of Germany’s Honorary Consul, Arne Schreiber, after a day of visits – that included a trip to Vaitele to meet with the Editor of the Samoa Observer, Mata’afa Keni Lesa.
During her four years as the German Ambassador in Samoa, Dr. Schleich said the two countries have made great progress in terms of the relationship.
“There have been improvements in Samoa in so many different areas. There has for instance been a highly successful fight against all forms of discrimination, important international agreements have been signed to fight corruption, and violence against women and children could be reduced dramatically. All these enhancements make Samoa a real Pacific leader out of Samoa.”
On this visit, the Ambassador has met many leading figures to discuss the country’s current situation. These officials include the Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, Prime Minister Tuilaepa, government C.E.Os as well as members of the private sector.
She is particularly fond of her relationship with the Head of State and Masiofo, Her Highness Filifilia.
“We know each other very well from many visits here and in New Zealand as well. During my ongoing term as an Ambassador, he also visited Germany twice, which can be described as a result of my collaboration with honorary consul Arne Schreiber here in the country.”
For Mr. Schreiber, who has been the Honorary Consul in Samoa since 2008, he can look back at a successful time with Ambassador Anne-Marie Schleich.
“We have achieved several goals here in Samoa with the funding of many small scale projects. These projects were organised with the support of our embassy, which is based in Wellington, New Zealand and primarily address the local communities here in Samoa,” he said.
With these small scale projects, the honorary consul and the embassy are able to request money from the Federal Republic of Germany to a certain extend to fund up to two different projects in the area each year.
In the past years, these projects included, for example, the funding of a better medical education in Samoa.
“This particular project was initialised with the support of the National Help Services and made it possible to send over medical experts from Germany to Samoa to improve the country’s pathology situation. With this project, the calculation time of medical tests could be drastically improved.”
However, these are not the only projects which were realised with the help of the German Embassy to improve the country’s situation.
As a well-known fact, Samoa is one of the countries that has to face major problems caused by the effects of climate change. Together with G.I.Z., an organisation formed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the embassy has prioritized the fight against climate change on many levels in Samoa, as well as fourteen other states in the Pacific.
As Programme Director, Dr. Wulf Killmann explained, the cooperation with ambassador Dr Anne-Marie Schleich and the local authorities has been a successful one so far.
“We were able to operate on many different levels here. What we could show in the area of climate adaption is highly profitable in an environmental sense,” he said.
One of these operations in Samoa includes support in the area of fisheries.
“It is predicted that until the year of 2050, fishes in coastal areas will decline by 30%, which is not compatible with the simultaneous increase of the general population.
“Therefore, we started a project with the support of the German embassy, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and S.P.R.E.P. (Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme) in which we were able to install so called fish aggregating devices in eight communities on Upolu as well as on Savai’i.” These devices consist of a long rope on which plankton deposits itself, which helps to repair the ocean’s natural habitat.
This fight against climate change is one of the important areas where the German ambassador, Dr Anne-Marie Schleich senses a high potential to improve the relationship of both countries: “In this area, we try to unite the native Samoan expertise with our professional knowledge that we have from G.I.Z. to cover all the different aspects of climate change that we have to be aware of. This is exactly the kind of additional value that we can provide from the German side in this issue”.
Apart from all the projects ambassador Schleich was involved in, there are many other things she connects to the country of Samoa on a personal base.
“I have to say that watching how the Manu Samoa has won the France Sevens in Paris recently really was a great experience. Many congratulations to this remarkable achievement, which certainly is a great success for a great country.”