Community Council of MinistersOther CountriesPress ReleasesSpeeches


Your Excellency, Jules Wijdenbosch, President of Suriname and Chairman of CARICOM
Colleague Heads of Government
Vice President Of Suriname
Speaker of the National Assembly
Members of the Assembly
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Distinguished Delegates
Other Distinguished Guests
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen

The honour and privilege are mine this morning as the newest member of the Bureau of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community to thank and respond on behalf of my colleague Heads of Government to the stirring welcome by our Chairman, His Excellency the President of Suriname, to this truly historic Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference.

The symbolic significance of our Meeting here in Suriname as Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community for the first time, is not lost on the peoples of the Community. It clearly demonstrates to all that Suriname is new not only “in” the Caribbean Community but “in charge” of the Caribbean Community.

We are eagerly awaiting Haiti to follow suit. We are delighted at these developments and look forward to two stimulating days of discussion resulting in decisions which will redound to the benefit of the peoples of the Caribbean Community.

Ladies and gentlemen, if anything was necessary to cement the place Suriname in the Community as its first non-English speaking member, the convening of this conference, the first ever outside the English -speaking Caribbean of the Heads of Government, has done just that.

Mr. Chairman, I cannot help remarking on the veritable splendor of the setting of this futuristic Congress Halle (pronounced Halla). It is a truly 21st Century structure. Its splendour is equally matched by the warmth of the hospitality and the generosity extended to us by the Government and people of Suriname, confirming my view that the increasing diversity of our Caribbean Community can only redound to its benefit.

Mr Chairman, the proceedings over the next two days, we firmly believe, will be of significant benefit to the peoples of the Region, in particular to our young people. Last night in this very Hall we witnesses a fine example of what the Youth of the region are capable of, and for us in Trinidad and Tobago, I would like to congratulate the winners of the CARICOM 25th Anniversary Regional Schools Debating Competition as well as the runners-up and all the participating teams, for what I have been informed has been a competition of a consistently high standard.

Later today, we as Heads of Government will have an opportunity to interact with a cross-section of Regional Youth as we seek to identify the way forward for the Community in the early years of the next millennium. This discussion with the Youth, another historic first at this Inter-Sessional Meeting, and the debate finals last night will set the tone for our deliberations. It is a clear and unequivocal recognition of the need for the total involvement of our young people in determining and defining the future of our Region.

The emphasis over the next two days on the important role of the Youth, will be evident as we seek to ensure that the opportunity is provided for all ideas to contend as we chart a course for the future of the Region.

From the youth we look forward to their innovativeness, intensity, and idealism, and from those of more advanced years we hope to draw from their experience and expertise. Fused together, these elements would enable the Community to aspire to and achieve a higher quality of life in the next decade.

But to do so ladies and gentlemen, we need to realise that the challenges of the new millennium are already upon us. Our response cannot therefore be delayed. And that response must incorporate our cultural and ethnic diversity with the technological versatility which, respectively, our solidarity and new age demand and which are the only means by which we will secure our place in this hemisphere.

Mr. chairman, ladies and gentlemen, it is with this exciting prospect that we commence this final Inter-Sessional of the Century. It marks a new beginning which symbolically takes place in our newest Member State, and for the first time involves the participation of our Youth as an integral element. We are not preparing for the coming century. We are already there. Now it’s time for our best performance.

Mr. Chairman, on a personal note, having seen the level of organisation and the standard set by Suriname, we in Trinidad and Tobago have a clear idea of the challenge before us as we prepare to welcome the CARICOM family at the Twentieth Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government in Port of Spain in July. I am looking forward to seeing you all there. I thank you and may God bless you all.

Show More
Back to top button