Honourable Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis
Honourable Foreign Minister of Saint Lucia
Other Distinguished Ministers
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great pleasure to be here in Saint Lucia once again. An island deservedly recognised as the “Helen of the West”
It has had a rich history and like another of our beautiful Caribbean islands, Tobago, the so called bone of contention.
It represented a prize most valiantly fought for in centuries past by European colonisers.
It is said that at the end of every major European war involving the Caribbean when the balance sheet was struck on which ever side Saint Lucia and Tobago were that was considered the winning side. Perhaps this is only folklore, but if it were it was evidently good folklore.
Today Saint Lucia stands probably at the centre of the Caribbean Community and of the Forum of Caribbean States of the African, Caribbean and Pacific ACP States and provides the venue for our meeting with our erstwhile colonisers turn co-operators.
As Secretary-General of the CARIFORUM States I welcome you honourable Ministers, distinguished delegates, members of the diplomatic corps, aides and gentlemen, to this meeting – the 11th of the Council of Ministers of the CARIFORUM ACP States – CARIFORUM.
In welcoming you all permit me to extend a special welcome to the distinguished Minister of Cuba, the Honourable Ricardo Cabrisas and his delegation.
I must also sincerely thank the Government and people of Saint Lucia for agreeing to host this meeting and for providing so splendidly for our accommodation and our work. The setting is truly hellenic.
But for the time being it is on the serious work ahead that we must focus. This Council comes at a time in the Region’s cooperation with Europe and the phase of our cooperation with Europe comes at a critical milestone in human development. September 11 means nothing less. Certainly we as a Region would need to take even more seriously than ever the task of regional development, the path to be followed, the speed at which we must move the process and the balances we must strike.
In many ways our way of life has been irrevocably changed. No longer can it be business as usual – not if we are serious about securing a place for our people in the new world of the 21st century.
Honourable Ministers when we last met in special session in Port-of-Spain on September 6th you mandated me to undertake a mission to Brussels to discuss a number of matters vital to our cooperation with the European Union. I undertook that Mission on 13-14 September and the report emanating therefrom is before you. Permit me to say only that it was an arduous mission and one from which many lessons must be drawn.
This certainly is a time for serious reckoning, reviewing and planning to be followed by firm and resolute action on our part. There are no easy options for the Caribbean and our future calls for much more.
This meeting of the CARIFORUM Council of Ministers today preparatory to the CARIFORUM Ministerial/EU Commission meeting tomorrow must say clearly that we can only be successful tomorrow if we prepare ourselves adequately today.
It is the signaled message which must go forth as it were from this place and time: from our meeting today and that with our European partners tomorrow.
It is a meeting pregnant with such significance that the distinguished Foreign Minister of Saint Lucia, the Honourable Julian Hunte is being invited to Chair.
Before calling on him however, I am pleased to invite the Honourable Sam Condor, distinguished and outgoing Chairman of CARIFORUM to address the meeting.