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(CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana)  Under the theme “Sharing the Vision”, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Mr. Edwin Carrington has highlighted key areas crucial to the development of the Region.

Sharing a toast to mark the 25th anniversary of CARICOM last Friday at his residence in Georgetown, Guyana, the Secretary-General told the audience which included the Honourable Prime Minister Mr Sam Hinds and Mrs Hinds, Foreign Minister the Hon. Mr Clement Rohee and other Cabinet Ministers, Parliamentarians, members of the diplomatic corps, and members of staff, that the Community must quicken its pace to secure a viable place for its people in the fast approaching 21st century. Mr. Carrington noted that ” despite recent improvements we are still moving too slowly.”

It was reiterated that the Region must harness and put technology in its true place as the world reflects a strong technological bias. The Secretary-General underscored that the smallness of CARICOM makes it vitally important for it “to acquire the ability to adjust to major world changes as well as in technology, in economic, and in trade policies.”

The foundation of the vision, according to Mr. Carrington, is people, a fact recognised by Heads of Government at their 18th meeting in Montego Bay, Jamaica, in July 1997 when they endorsed a human resource development policy for the Region . He suggested that further steps need to be taken as “recognition is not implementation.” Technology management is key to the shared vision of a distinctive Caribbean society and there is need for the development of essential technological skills, Mr. Carrington said.

The Secretary-General pointed to CARICOM’s unrelenting efforts towards the establishment of a Single Market and Economy which in effect ” strengthens the Region’s position within a changing global configuration.” He said the Region moved closer to this realisation with the signing of Protocols III, and V relating to coordinated policies on industry and agriculture respectively.

Mr. Carrington said that CARICOM is “loud in its praise for the spirit of compromise, conciliation, and hope being displayed by Guyanese people,” a direct reference to the political situation in Guyana where tensions have been eased following the signing of a statement in Saint Lucia, brokered by CARICOM leaders, by the two main political figures in Guyana.

The Secretary-General pointed to some of the general successes of CARICOM over the last 25 years including its survival as a Community, expansion of membership and horizons, and the deepening of the relationships within the Community. He noted that “CARICOM is one of the most enduring regional integration movements in the developing world, and the world at large, second perhaps only to the European Union.”

He thanked a wide cross-section of groups in the Community for the contributions which helped the Region in “building an edifice which serves as a model for integration arrangements among developing countries.”

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