Conference of Heads of GovernmentMemberPress ReleasesSpeechesSt. Kitts and Nevis


His Excellency the Governor-General and Mrs. Sebastian;
Their Excellencies the Presidents of Guyana and Suriname;
Dr. the Hon. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and Chairman of the Conference of Heads of Government;
Other Distinguished Prime Ministers and Heads of Government ;
Honourable Ministers;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies;
Chief Negotiator of the Regional Negotiating Machinery;
Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank;
Director-General of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States;
Distinguished Delegates;
Distinguished Invitees to this Opening Ceremony;
Members of the Media;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

Welcome to St. Kitts and Nevis for this the Eleventh Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community(CARICOM). CARICOM is deeply grateful to the Government and People of St. Kitts and Nevis for hosting the Eleventh Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government. This is the third occasion on which the Conference of Heads of Government will be meeting here in St. Kitts and Nevis. The Conference met here first in 1975, in 1991 and is meeting today in this magnificant building. It must also not be forgotten that a significant number of Ministerial Meetings, including the 1999 Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations, have taken place here. In August, the Caribbean Festival of Creative Arts (CARIFESTA) will also be taking place in this beautiful country. It is truly an impeccable record of regional solidarity.

This tradition of welcome is of very ancient roots, dating all the way back at least to the seventeenth century, when S. Kitts became the first English settlement in the West Indies and later became a model for the establishment of other English and French colonies in the Caribbean.

St. Kitts and Nevis has historically also willingly given of its human resources to the Region, as well as to both sides of the Atlantic: most notably, Hamilton to the Americas, and to Europe, a wife to the English Admiral Lord Nelson.

Honourable Prime Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen, it would be remiss of me at this time not to extend warmest congratulations to the Prime Minister and current Chairman of the Caribbean Community, Dr. the Hon. Denzil Douglas for the resounding victory of his Party in the elections held less than a week ago. Mr Chairman, please accept the Community’s best wishes as you continue to steer the ship of State towards greater prosperity in the twenty-first century. I will always recall your promise when asked by a rather concerned Secretary-General about the closeness of the elections to this Meeting, and your assurance that you will be here to greet your Colleagues on arrival.

Mr. Prime Minister, you have kept your promise, and your confidence in your stewardship has certainly been vindicated by the electorate of St. Kitts and Nevis. Heartiest congratulations!

I take this opportunity also to extend a special welcome to the new Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica, the Hon. Roosevelt Douglas, who is attending his first meeting as a CARICOM Head of Government. Mr. Prime Minister, warmest congratulations on your elevation to this high Office. It is said that from those to whom much is given, much is expected. The Community stands by this maxim in your regard. We eagerly look forward to working with you for the betterment of your country and that of the entire Caribbean Community.

These recent elections, Ladies and Gentlemen are proof that democracy and good governance continue to be the bedrock of our Community.

It is with pleasure that I also place on record the gratitude of the Community to the Hon. Basdeo Panday, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and Immediate Past Chairman of the Conference, for his very able and constructive leadership during his tenure as Chairman from last July to December, during which period, the Conference of Heads of Government met in Trinidad and Tobago twice, to develop a vision for the Community and to chart its way forward.

The main product of that outstanding effort by Heads of Government is the Consensus of Chaguaramas. This Instrument has set the goals which the CARICOM Heads of Government are seeking to achieve for the Community in the early twenty-first century, as well as in some cases, has established the time-frame for their achievement.

Honourable Prime Ministers, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, this Meeting comes on the veritable heels of the CARIFORUM-France Summit in Guadeloupe, which will no doubt give fillip to greater regional cooperation. The presence of fourteen Heads of State and Government of

CARIFORUM at that Summit underscored their commitment to regional cooperation among all Caribbean peoples and to greater solidarity in their relations with third countries.

Permit me to say a very special word of thanks to the Rt. Hon. Percival Patterson, Prime Minister of Jamaica and Chairman of CARIFORUM for so ably leading the region’s cause at that Summit. Merci beaucoup, Monsieur le President!

During this Eleventh Inter-Sessional Meeting, CARICOM Heads will be faced with determining new ways of achieving regional objectives. This Meeting, with the signing at the close of Protocols VIII and IX on Competition Policy and Dispute Settlement, respectively, also brings to a climax, preparations for the legal and institutional framework for the establishment of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy. And not a moment too soon for the implementation of a decision taken at the beginning of the last decade of the twentieth century. Delay in its implementation cannot be countenanced. The survival and growth of our small states and of our people, in this era of globalisation, demand the early establishment of this infrastructure to underpin and secure their future.

There is no better place to begin the process of so assuring our people’s future than here in St. Kitts and Nevis, where so much of our history has found its beginnings.

Equally important, the Conference will receive a report from the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on External Negotiations, especially on the work of the Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM) which contributed substantially to the new ACP-EU Partnership Agreement. As you are well aware, our external relations play no less an important role in our development than our national and regional efforts.

In closing, it is perhaps no coincidence that this Opening Ceremony will conclude with the Official Launching by that most critical of regional institutions, the University of the West Indies, of the proceedings of the Conference on “The Caribbean in the Twenty-First Century” held at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Jamaica last September, entitled Contending with Destiny. The title of this book more than adequately sums up our mission here today.

It is in that spirit that, after a song presentation by Ms. Germul Huggins, I invite the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, the Hon. Basdeo Panday, himself with Prime Minister Patterson, a major contributor to that Conference of last September and the Immediate Past Chairman of the Conference of Heads of Government, to address us.

Show More
Back to top button