Hon. Sam Condor
Hon. Billie Miller, Deputy Prime Minister of Barbados
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
I wish to extend a warm welcome to you all to the Sixth Meeting of the Community Council. In doing so I want to convey on behalf of us all, my deep thanks and appreciation to the Government of Barbados for offering to host this important Meeting. My thanks are all the more profound, as this is the third Meeting of a Community body which the Government of Barbados would be hosting over the last week. It is truly an exemplary demonstration of commitment to the spirit of Community for which we are profoundly grateful. On our part, it behoves us to ensure that these contributions are without doubt used to the greatest benefit of the peoples of the Community.
As I make this appeal, I am not unmindful of the personal sacrifice which many of you – Ministers and officials alike – have been making not only over the last week but in some cases a decade or more – to build a Caribbean Community which is worthy of the aspirations of our peoples.
Too often we tend to take your contribution and sacrifices for granted. We should not, especially as more and more in quantity and quality would be demanded of us all, as we embark on this next stage of Community building.
This Meeting is a critical step along that road. Not only will it be engaged with preparing for the 21st Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government due to take place in Canouan in St. Vincent and the Grenadines from 2-5 July, but we will have to establish mechanisms for the effective incorporation of a new Member State – Haiti – into the Community, as well as grapple for the first time, with the sensitive issue of border difficulties between two Member States.
But if on your Agenda today there are difficulties to be dealt with which can threaten the fabric of the Community, there are also issues the successful completion of which can represent a giant leap in Community building. The proposal of the regional Chief Immigration Officers for the institution of a CARICOM Passport, and the ideas for strengthening the involvement of Civil Society in Community activities, are issues which can certainly lead to the creation of a more robust and relevant Caribbean Community.
This is all the more certain as the cultural cement which the forthcoming CARIFESTA VII, due on 17 to 26 August in St. Kitts and Nevis would be contributing to the process.
These issues reinforce the importance of the work of this Council which is faced with increasing responsibilities as the Community develops.
And it is for that reason that we have all agreed to add to the structure of the Meeting, an extra dimension of a Retreat, to permit this Council to undertake a comprehensive review of its mandate to ensure that the discharge of its responsibility, as the second highest Organ of the Community, is reflected in the quality and value of its contribution.
It is with this appreciation that I welcome you to this vital meeting of this critical Organ of the Community Council, as it continues and indeed seeks to upgrade its noble task of Caribbean Community building, not just for its people of today, but for those of tomorrow as well.
I think that we should all be grateful that history has afforded us a small place in that process.
I thank you.