It is indeed a pleasure for Lady Allen and me to welcome and host you this evening, on the occasion of the thirteenth annual dinner in honour of the diplomatic corps. This event presents an opportunity not only to interact outside the usual work environment, but also for us to entertain you with the warm hospitality for which Jamaica is renowned. We ask that you convey our best wishes to your Heads of State and to the Governments and people of the countries you represent.
I extend an especially warm greeting to our non-resident High Commissioners and Ambassadors who are visiting our shores for the first time. I suspect that most of you have been enjoying the respite from the recent extremes of wintry weather in some of your places of residence, and further trust that by the end of the remaining activities of the week’s programme, you would already have been forming plans to join our remarkable list of repeat visitors to Jamaica—even for Diplomatic Week!
This unique week of activities has been created to facilitate the opportunity for closer collaboration and dialogue between the diplomatic corps and the respective Ministries and agencies of Government involved in the development and implementation of national policy.
You would havebeen briefed earlier in the week by the Honourable Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, and other Ministers of Government. We trust that the information imparted will prove useful in furthering your reporting functions, and also in further enhancing the collaborative efforts in which our countries may be engaged.
Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
The year just concluded was filled with its challenges, not only for Jamaica, but also for the wider international community. There were numerous disasters and catastrophes both natural and those of our own making. These include the earthquake in Haiti, the floods in Pakistan, the mine collapses in Chile and New Zealand, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, volcanic eruptions in Iceland and Indonesia, and the hurricanes and cyclones which struck in the Caribbean and the Pacific – all threatening to shred the very fabric of human society.
In Jamaica, our own national psyche was shaken as we experienced so many challenges in 2010. Despite these however, I am pleased to note that we have made progress in many areas that are of critical importance to our development.
It is not lost on us that much of the gains were due to the generous assistance of our global partners, facilitated in no small part by many of you present this evening. Through bilateral cooperation programmes and projects and with the support of multilateral agencies, you have partnered with Jamaica to help promote the growth and development that the country needs. Allow me to reiterate on behalf of the people of Jamaica, our sincere gratitude for your efforts.
As the community of nations forges ahead into this New Year, 2011, there remains much work to be done to address the continued and new challenges that confront us all. Jamaica recognises its role and responsibilities as a member of the regional and international community and remains committed to building relationships in furtherance of our shared goals.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Jamaica maintains its firm belief in the role of diplomacy as a tool for development, resolution of international disputes, combating shared challenges and the maintenance of friendly relations between States. As such, we are gratified that a total of seventy-two (72) High Commissioners and Ambassadors are currently accredited to us, thirty of whom are resident here.
Since Diplomatic Week 2010, a total of fourteen (14) High Commissioners and Ambassadors have been formally accredited to Jamaica, including those who have presented credentials during this week. Over the same period, we bade farewell to resident Ambassadors and High Commissioners from Spain, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and Brazil, and to our non-resident Ambassadors and High Commissioners from the Bahamas, Barbados, Bolivia, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Iran, Israel, Italy, Mali, Mauritius, Namibia, Peru, Rwanda and Swaziland.
His Excellency Noel Martinez Ochoa, Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, became Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, consequent on the departure of the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain. We offer you Sir our congratulations and assurance of support in this added role.
Despite our constraints, we continue to invest significantly in our overseas representation. We have opened a new Embassy in Kuwait, which marks Jamaica’s first Resident Mission in the Middle East. Through this channel we hope to strengthen our relations with our friends in the region.
Jamaica welcomed a number of high level visitors during the year, among them the official visits of the President of the Republic of Colombia, His Excellency Juan Manuel Santos Calderon and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon, U.N. Secretary-General, His Excellency Jose Miguel Insulza, Secretary-General of the OAS, and Mr Dominque Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director of the IMF, were our special guests at the 31st Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, held in Montego Bay, July 4th – 7th, 2010.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
In closing, let me hope you have enjoyed the activities of the week so far, and with tomorrow being the final day, that you will complete the week on a high note.
I wish to assure you of the continued support of the staff of the Office of The Governor-General, and the people of Jamaica
I thank you.