OPENING REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY DR.CLAUDE JOSEPH, PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND WORSHIP OF THE REPUBLIC OF HAITI, ON THE OCCASION OF THE TWENTY-FOURTH MEETING OF THE COUNCIL FOR FOREIGN AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS (COFCOR), VIA ZOOM, 6 MAY 2021
Colleagues Foreign Ministers and Heads of Delegations of CARICOM Member States;
Ambassador Irwin LaRoque, Secretary-General of CARICOM;
Staff of the CARICOM Secretariat,
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is with great pleasure, as outgoing Chairman of COFCOR, that I address this august body on the occasion of its Twenty Fourth Meeting. From the onset, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the CARICOM Secretariat General for the excellent arrangements made for the holding of our meeting which I hope, will be a success in all possible respects.
I would especially like to thank all my colleagues and the staff of the CARICOM Secretariat for the support provided to me over the past year, in this unprecedented difficult time. Allow me to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to the Honourable Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration of Belize, who will assume chairmanship of the Council.
On behalf of His Excellency Jovenel Moïse, President of the Republic of Haiti, the Government and the people of Haiti, I would like to extend my heartfelt sympathy to the Government and the people of Saint-Vincent and the Grenadines, especially the Honorable Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph E. GONSALVES, on the damage caused by the eruption of La Soufriere volcano. We wish a prompt recovery to our brothers and sisters affected by this tragedy.
Dear colleagues, Ladies and gentlemen,
2020 was a remarkably difficult year, mostly because of the Covid-19 pandemic and its dire consequences: economic crises, millions of deaths, hundreds of millions of job losses, travel bans, to name a few. Our region, the Caribbean is unfortunately one of the most affected. But even with the pandemic as an omnipresent backdrop, we managed to move our organization forward focusing on the strategic priorities in the areas of economic integration, functional cooperation and external relations.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of activities we undertook over the past year:
- On September 18, 2020, the community hosted its 13th Special Meeting,
- On February 19, 2021, the Foreign Ministers of CARICOM and Canada met virtually for the first time. The discussions were centered on key issues of mutual interest including the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recovery, and climate resilience.
- On March 9, 2021, on the occasion of the 19th CARICOM-Japan virtual Consultation, participants at the meeting reviewed the Japan-CARICOM relationship with regard to cooperation in response to COVID-19 and the three pillars of Japan’s CARICOM policies, namely:
1. “Cooperation towards sustainable development;
2. “Deeping and expanding fraternal bonds of cooperation and friendship”;
3. “Cooperation in addressing challenges of the international community”.
- On March 18, 2021, on the occasion of the 10th CARICOM-United Kingdom Forum which was held virtually, the Foreign Ministers of the United Kingdom and Caribbean countries, welcomed the Communiqué signed at the Forum, and also agreed on a two-year Action Plan 2021-2023, with two specific areas: Recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, bilateral and regional cooperation.
- In a virtual Round Table on April 21, 2021, CARICOM Foreign Ministers and the United States Secretary of States, were focused broadly around the Covid-19 pandemic and its health and economic fallout, recovery of the regional economy, climate change and democracy, human rights and security. Support was also expressed for the People of St Vincent and the Grenadines affected by La Soufriere Volcano.
- May 4, 2021, CARICOM Foreign Ministers met virtually to ratify the draft decisions of the thirteenth Special Meeting of the Community Council of Ministers, and to evaluate the presentation of two candidates for the post of Secretary General.
- On May 6-7, 2021, the Council for Foreign and Community Relations had its 24th Meeting where the outgoing Chairman, the Honourable Dr Claude Joseph, Prime Minister ad interim and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Haiti, officially hands over the chairmanship to the Honourable Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration of Belize.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me to evoke briefly the situation in my country. Haiti has been experiencing over the past two years a difficult time. In January 2021, however, an important step was taken in the consolidation of the democracy.
The independent electoral council made available all the stages of the electoral process that will lead, before the end of this year, to the realization of the presidential, legislative, municipal and local elections. That calendar includes a referendum on a new constitution.
June 27, 2021: Referendum on the new Constitution
September 19, 2021: First round of presidential and legislative elections
November 21, 2021: Second round of presidential and legislative elections
January 22, 2022: Proclamation of the final election results
February 7, 2022: Swearing-in of the new President.
It is important to note that the international community as a whole, UN, AOS etc… considers the holding of these elections as essential for the consolidation of democracy and the rule of law in Haiti, a necessary condition for improving the living conditions of the Haitian people and for achieving lasting stability. I would like to express my deep gratitude to the CARICOM Community and all the partners of Haiti for the support provided in the preparation and holding of these elections.
The success of these elections will be an important milestone on the road to stability of the country and will enable Haiti to better assume its role in achieving CARICOM’s goals for a more prosperous and productive Caribbean Community which we hold so dear.