(Caption: Prime Minister Freundel Stuart; Foreign Affairs Minister, Senator Maxine McClean and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Jose Febres pose with members of the resident Diplomatic Corps and representatives of international and regional organisations resident in Barbados. (W.Alleyne/BGIS)“Even though Barbados is small in size, it is equal to all countries in its commitment to making the world a better place and to contributing to the enrichment of human civilisation.”)
This assertion was made by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart as he hosted a Breakfast Meeting for members of the resident Diplomatic Corps, on Friday February 26th, at the Crane Resort Hotel, at which they were briefed on the island’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations.
Also present at the meeting were representatives of International and Regional Organisations resident in Barbados, members of the Consular Corps, Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM and other senior government officials.
In welcoming the Corps, the Prime Minister acknowledged those present, noting that the Ambassadors of the People’s Republic of China, Argentina, Cuba and the USA, the High Commissioner of New Zealand and the Charge d’Affaires of the recently opened Embassy of Japan were not in post in Barbados at the time of the last Breakfast.
He thanked all present for the contribution to the deepening of relations between their respective countries and Barbados. He indicated that the Breakfast would be an annual event.
Commenting on Barbados’ role in the international community over the last fifty years, Prime Minister Stuart stated that the island “could not have navigated the treacherous waters of Independence without the support, cooperation and inspiration of its international partners.”
He therefore thanked all for contributing directly and indirectly to Barbados’ success as a sovereign independent state over the last 50 years.
He further pointed out that it was Government’s desire to pass on a better Barbados to future generations and this could not be done without the cooperation and support of its international partners.
He stated that at the time of Independence in 1966, the country established diplomatic relations with four of the countries represented, that is, the USA, the UK, Canada and Guyana, and offered his profound gratitude to these countries for the support given over the period.
He recalled that in 1966 Barbados and Guyana had shared a High Commissioner to London, citing this as evidence of the very close relationship that existed and continues to exist between the two countries.
Referring to the challenging times in which we live and the financial meltdown of 2007 which affected countries large and small, he noted that Barbados was not daunted and continued to steel itself against the difficulties which have resulted from that period.
Barbados, Mr. Stuart said, had since Independence fully played its role in the international community as a sovereign state and nowhere was that better demonstrated than in 1994, when the island hosted the first international conference on Small Island Developing States out of which came the Barbados Programme of Action, which guides the deliberations of SIDS.
“Ten years later, SIDS went to Mauritius, out of which came the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action, and then 10 years later, Samoa, out of which came the Samoa Pathway,” which he described as a loud echo of the contents of the original Barbados Programme Action.
The most recent instance of this leading role, he continued, was last year at the COP 21 climate change conference in Paris when, as then chair of CARICOM, Barbados was able to assist in forging the Paris Agreement to be signed in New York this April.
In concluding, Prime Minister Stuart said he looked forward to the deepening of relations between Barbados and the diplomats’ respective countries and the organisations present, and thanked them for expressing confidence in Barbados by establishing representation in Barbados.
In a question and answer session following his address, the Prime Minister clarified that outside of the formal CARICOM process which was proceeding well despite challenges, the spirit of regionalism was vibrant and alive and evidenced for example in the services provided by LIAT; in the work of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation and the Council of Legal Education; and in the wide range of functional cooperation agencies in the region.
He also linked Barbados’ achievements to the cooperation of regional and international agencies, and urged that at this 50 year juncture Barbados needed to proceed to true nationhood by, amongst other things, having the self-confidence to promote its ideas and products beyond Barbados.
He repeated his call to Barbadians in this 50th anniversary year to reflect on the journey travelled and to retain the good characteristics of the country, to reclaim those that were lost, and to discard what was no longer necessary for the country’s wellbeing.
In welcoming members of the Corps, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean said the Ministry took its responsibility for nurturing and maintaining Barbados’ relations with the international community very seriously.
Senator McClean stated that the Ministry continuously sought to ensure that its services to resident missions were timely, relevant and helpful.
According to her, the meeting was an expression of Government’s firm commitment to embracing and supporting its friends in the international community in a manner reflecting cooperation and development. She welcomed the expansion of the resident Diplomatic Corps in Barbados.
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and Ambassador of Venezuela, Jose Febres, expressed gratitude at the hosting of the breakfast meeting. He stated that members of the Corps stood ready to take advantage of such occasions to share, especially at a time when Barbados was celebrating its 50th Anniversary of Independence.
Mr. Febres said that he was aware that many of his colleagues were reflecting on exactly how they would participate in the celebrations. He revealed that as part of its contribution, on the occasion of the centenary of the insurgency in April, his Embassy would be naming one of the classrooms within the Venezuelan Cultural Institute after the legendary Right Excellent Bussa.
Permanent Secretary of the 50th Independence Celebrations Secretariat, Gabrielle Springer delivered a presentation in which she outlined planned activities for the year ahead, including the iconic events and the “I Pledge” programme.