2015: A year of great importance to the Caribbean Community – CARICOM Chair

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Prime Minister of Barbados and Chair of CARICOM, the Rt. Hon Freundel Stuart.
Prime Minister of Barbados and Chair of CARICOM, the Rt. Hon Freundel Stuart.

CARICOM Chairman, the Rt. Hon Freundel Stuart said that while 2015 tested the Region’s resolve, it was also a year of great importance to the Caribbean. His characterisation was based on the influence the Community brought to bear in the international arena, and its progress in cementing regional integration.

The Prime Minister of Barbados said in an end of year message that the past year demonstrated “in no uncertain terms” the value of the regional integration project and the influence that its united front could yield internationally.

He recalled the United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21), negotiations and subsequent agreement in Paris, France and other engagements where the Community presented a united front.

Addressing the Community’s “noteworthy achievements” the Prime Minister Stuart highlighted continued improvements in the operations of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME); efforts to propel economic growth; the election of a CARICOM candidate to the position of Commonwealth Secretary-General; and the successful hosting of CARIFESTA in Haiti.

The year 2015 tested our resolve, but this Community has shown time and again that it has the wherewithal not only to withstand challenges but also to provide solutions to whatever problems arise.  The basis of its strength is its collective force and it is that which we must use as we continue the efforts to build a secure, principled, viable and sustainable Community for all of our citizens. There will always be challenges to any venture that shapes human lives, especially when undertaken by resource poor countries. But the indomitable spirit of CARICOM countries, individually and collectively, will take us forward,” the Chairman said.

Looking forward to 2016, the Chairman spoke of the important national milestones that would be observed by his country, Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda and Belize.

2016 will be a year in which, amongst other things, many of us will be reflecting on and celebrating important national milestones:  two of our member states (Barbados and Guyana) will be celebrating 50 years of independence, and two more (Antigua and Barbuda and Belize) will be celebrating 35 years of independence! Let us celebrate the richness of the Caribbean civilization with each advancing year of our status as independent nations.

We are now at the end of a tumultuous year, 2015, and stand on the threshold of 2016, with all that it promises. The Secretary General of CARICOM and his staff, as well as CARICOM’s functional cooperation agencies across our region, are deserving of our gratitude for their sterling contribution during the year. I extend my best wishes to the CARICOM Secretariat, and to the Governments and people of all CARICOM member countries, for a blessed and peaceful holiday season and for God’s guidance in the coming year,” he said.

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