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Your Excellency, it is my honor to present to you the letter from my Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation by which I have been designated Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary / Permanent Representative of Spain to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Spain and the nations of the Caribbean have a common history dating back many centuries. This shared history provides a solid foundation for the building of promising and mutually beneficial relations. The Caribbean region holds a special place in the affections of my country. In addition to traditional ties, over the past 15 years Spain has adopted a  Caribbean policy, driven by our economic and political interests, and directed not only at the Spanish-speaking countries but to all the nations of the region. Today we are one of the European countries with the largest diplomatic presence in the area: we have resident embassies in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Haiti, through which we maintain diplomatic relations with all countries of the region.  We are also active observers in regional organizations like the Association of Caribbean States, the OECS and CARICOM.

But with CARICOM we have a special relationship, given that Spain is a longstanding partner of the organization. In fact, this year we are celebrating the 15th anniversary of Spain – CARICOM cooperation, a landmark which clearly demonstrates that we are not short-term partners. Our relationship with CARICOM goes beyond mere diplomatic observation: our level of involvement in and commitment to the region is very high, and we are a partner that actively seeks the development of and cooperation with the region. It is for this reason that we have established specific political and financial instruments which allow us to work with CARICOM, such as the Spain-CARICOM Joint Fund (through which we have mobilized US$20.5 million for regional projects over past 10 years); as well as the mechanism of the Spain-CARICOM Summits, and the permanent political dialogue underway in Brussels (for matters of cooperation with the European Union) and in New York (for issues relating to cooperation at the United Nations). These dialogues include both Permanent Representatives of the Member States and Representatives of the Organization.

In 2014 we celebrate 15 years of Spain-CARICOM cooperation, with our first cooperation agreement being signed on July 4, 1999.  For us this is a special occasion which shows our clear and unwavering commitment to the region.  The quality of our cooperation has been enhanced significantly over those 15 years, evolving from a cooperation structure which was somewhat dispersed, into one with focused lines of action, and with specific instruments such as the Joint Fund, which is in close alignment with those cooperation needs identified by CARICOM. This all improves the efficiency of our actions.

 This year we will also celebrate important milestones: The signing of the CARICOM – Spain Joint Commission, which is expected to take place here in Guyana on May 19th, would mean the provision of additional funding by Spain for cooperation programmes.  On May 20th our Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation will attend the COFCOR meeting in order to commemorate with his regional counterparts these last 15 years of working together, as well as to exchange ideas and best practices. And finally, Spain looks forward to the convening later this year of the Spain-CARICOM Summit of Heads of Government. Previous Summits have been held in Madrid and, in deference to the Caribbean, we would have wished that the next Summit take place in the region.      We have therefore requested that the Summit be convened back to back with the Thirty-Fifth Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM.

Over these past 15 years, Spain has been among the top 10 donors to CARICOM. If we also consider bilateral contributions to member countries, it would show that Spain is one of the main development partners in the region. I wish to note that in addition to Spain’s work with Caribbean bilateral partners, as well as with CARICOM, my country has embraced the priorities and concerns of the region and defended these in multilateral fora, both within the EU and United Nations.  We are particularly sensitive to the priorities of SIDs, and have demonstrated our support financially, for instance, we have contributed US$200,000 to the fund established for the organization of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States to be held in September 2014 in Samoa.  I should also mention our work with respect to Water resources: namely, the organization of a seminar in Madrid which was attended by the Permanent Representatives of CARICOM; our activities concerning the Water Fund which we have established with the IDB; as well as our work in support of the recognition of the human right to water. Similarly, the phenomenon of climate change, which can so dramatically affect Caribbean nations, is a subject of great interest to my country (Spain has contributed $10M U.S. to the Strategic Climate Fund / World Bank SCF, which is currently developing a Caribbean pilot project on Climate Change Resilience). Lastly, I wish to mention Spain’s financial contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals through the Millennium Development Goals Fund.  Spain’s contribution of $900 million dollars, which stands to benefit more than 50 million people, represents the single largest State contribution within the United Nations.

Spain’s commitment to multilateralism has led us to submit our application for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the period 2015-2016. Spain is the sixth largest contributor to the UN.  One hundred and thirty thousand of our men and women have participated in peacekeeping operations around the world, and Spain remains staunchly committed to the Millennium Development Goals, to peace and to international security.  I would like to emphasize that the Spanish candidacy has added value for the Caribbean, given that we are a partner with a presence in the region, a partner who is reliable, willing to assist, and who is also aware of the concerns and interests of its Caribbean friends. Should our candidacy be successful, Spain would be a loyal advocate for the Caribbean and, within the UN forum, would serve as a voice capable of transmitting the region’s messages and expectations.

Finally, all that remains for me to do at this juncture is to thank you, Mr. Secretary General, for the very warm welcome that has been extended to me, and to assure you of my willingness to work with CARICOM with enthusiasm and dedication.  It is both my Government’s and my own fervent desire that these past fifteen years of collaborative experience with CARICOM serve as the basis upon which we inaugurate a new era of excellence.

Thank you very much.

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