FEBRUARY 3, 2014 – 3.00pm

Your Excellencies

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Lady Allen and I bid you a very warm welcome to King’s House to this brief ceremony for the presentation of the Credentials by three Heads of Missions who are resident overseas.  As we greet the Ambassador of Israel and the High Commissioner for Suriname who are happily located in the tropics, I believe that you will join me in extending an especially warm greeting to the Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia who is escaping the record cold temperatures in North America.

Our Annual Diplomatic Week is as an ideal occasion for receiving these Credentials, as it affords the Non-Resident Heads of Mission an excellent opportunity to combine the formal introduction to our State with a week of briefings by Leaders of our Government.  The State Diplomatic Dinner which Lady Allen and I shall host on Thursday is high on the week’s agenda, so I shall have another opportunity of meeting you, the new Heads of Mission and spouses, at King’s House.

This afternoon it is my pleasure to receive the Letters of Credence from Heads of Mission with whose countries Jamaica enjoys a very cordial relationship.  As members of the CARICOM family, Jamaica and Suriname share a deep bond, born of historic linkages, shared principles and objectives, as well as collaboration for addressing common development perspectives and concerns.

Our relations with Israel are long-standing and principled, founded on mutual respect and strengthened by the vibrant community of Jews who boast one of the oldest synagogues in this hemisphere. Jamaica has benefitted from technical cooperation from Israel in several areas and we anticipate continued collaboration.

Although our relationship with Croatia is of more recent vintage, we are bound by principles and purposes to which we all subscribe in the United Nations Charter.  I can assure you, Ambassador that we harbour no ill-will for the victory of the Croatian team over our Reggae Boyz in our very first World Cup match in France in 1998.  We wish Croatia well in Brazil.

My country looks forward to deepening relations with the States Your Excellencies represent and I hope that during your respective tenures, we shall be able to celebrate progress in that regard.  Each of you brings to this important assignment years of experience which will serve you well not only in promoting your countries’ interests, but also in identifying potential areas for policy, technical, or commercial cooperation with Jamaica.

You have come at an exciting time as our Government engages our people and seeks external participation in the Global Logistics Hub, a major development strategy which will put us firmly on the path to achieving our Vision 2030 development objectives.  You will hear much more about this in your briefings from the Most Honourable Prime Minister and Members of her Cabinet.

You will also be briefed about the socio-economic challenges which Jamaica faces. In this context, I would like to share with you the mantra of the “I Believe” Initiative which I launched in May 2011: There is nothing wrong with Jamaica which cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica. Your Excellencies will come to appreciate the full weight of this mantra when you know more about the resilience and inventiveness of our people, when you know about the strides which our youth are making in the field of information technology and when you experience the potential of the majority of our hard-working, ambitious Jamaicans.

As I welcome you onboard, I wish for you a very satisfying tour of duty, both in the Missions where you are resident, as well as in the promotion of relations between your respective country and Jamaica.

To that end, I recommend that you return as often as possible, but make sure that you mark the Annual Diplomatic Week on your calendar as you will not find another similar opportunity for interaction with Leaders at the highest level.

Please convey to your respective President my warmest greetings, as well as my best wishes for the peaceful stability and consistent development of your countries and the wellbeing of your peoples.

Thank you!