Your Excellency Ambassador Patrick Boursin
Assistant Secretaries-General and other Members of Staff of the CARICOM Secretariat
Members of the Media
Enfin nous y sommes! – Finally we are here! It is truly my pleasure and honour to do what history and geography, culture and anthropology have long deemed natural and inevitable. It is my pleasure to formally affirm the ties that bind the Caribbean Community and the French Departments in the Americas and Metropolitan France.
Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of the Community, I am pleased to receive the credentials of His Excellency Ambassador Boursin, accrediting him as the French Republic’s Ambassador to CARICOM. His Excellency’s numerous postings in Caribbean and Latin American nations make him no stranger to the Caribbean and will undoubtedly serve him in good stead as he exercises his new functions.
This ceremony marking the accreditation process is the newest step in an old staircase. Franco-Caribbean relations have deep historical foundations. Prime among the latest inscription is the relationship of the Caribbean Community with the European Union (EU), in the context of the EU- CARIFORUM-ACP partnership envisioned in the Cotonou Agreement.
The relationships are as valued as they are longstanding, and it is the Community’s hope that they will be enhanced not only by the consolidation of Franco-CARICOM links, but by a number of others that have served to sustain Franco Caribbean relations over the years.
The EU-LAC forum and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) are two such links. Other initiatives engaged in since 2000 by France, the Departments of France in the Americas (DFAs) and CARICOM, have also facilitated sustained dialogue between the French Republic and CARICOM. These include:
In addition, in another two days, I shall lead a CARICOM delegation to Martinique to attend the First Meeting involving the European Development Fund, Caribbean National Authorizing Officers, CARIFORUM, the Territorial Authorising Officers, and the European Commission Interreg IIIB Caribbean Space Programme.
Out of these many encounters has emerged an indicative list of fields in which CARICOM and the DFAs in particular might pursue cooperation. These include inter alia:
If this list is long, it is because both France, its component DFAs and CARICOM, recognise that globalisation has served to expand and accelerate the pace at which cooperation can and should occur.
Indeed, the development of relations, facilitated by the aforementioned initiatives and by this accreditation, is to be complemented by the negotiation of a Co-operation Framework Agreement on which both parties will begin working soon.
The Caribbean Community therefore looks upon this occasion with a special sense of historical destiny for it represents the realisation of a dear and early vision – one held by the visionaries and intellectuals who became the ideological architects of Caribbean integration – that of a Caribbean future which would see English, French and Dutch territories in a united Region.
In this regard, allow me to pay homage to one of these early visionaries, well known and more importantly well loved by us all – M. Clovis Beauregard of Martinique and may I say of the wider Caribbean, who passed on very recently. Had he held out a while longer, he would certainly have joined us in lifting a glass today, in a toast to the commonality of spirit that binds us in Caribbean unity.
In conclusion, Ladies and Gentlemen, today CARICOM embraces the French Republic in solidarity and partnership and regional cooperation.
We extend our warm welcome to you Excellency, the first Representative to the Caribbean Community by France – the Metropole and our dear Martinique, Guadeloupe and la Guyane Francaise. We embrace you into this more than diplomatic relationship with the Caribbean Community.