- The Hon. Dr. Kenneth Baugh – Deputy Prime of Jamaica and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
- The Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller – Leader of the Opposition
- Your Excellencies, Presidents and Governors-General of the Caribbean Community and spouses
- Honourable Ministers of Government
- Most Hon. Professor Sir Kenneth Hall – Former Governor-General of Jamaica
- Chief Justice Hon. Mrs. Justice Zaila McCalla
- Honourable Mr. Justice Seymour Panton – President of the Court of Appeal
- Members of Parliament
- Heads of Agencies and Commissions
- Your Excellencies and members of the Diplomatic Corps
- Rt. Reverend Bishop Thompson and other members of the Clergy
- Members of the Privy Council
- Honourable Custodes
- Members of the Consular Corps
- Distinguishes guests
- Ladies and gentlemen
It is my great honour and pleasure to welcome you to the Opening Ceremony of the 14th Conference of Presidents and Governors-General of the Caribbean Community. This is the second time that Jamaica is hosting this Conference and the first since the new Millennium. To our special guests from overseas, I welcome you to beautiful Jamaica, and I know you will appreciate our customary warmth and hospitality-a tradition we share with the rest of the Caribbean community.
Present at this Conference are two (2) Presidents and seven (7) Governors-General:
- Her Excellency Dame Louise Lake-Tack – Antigua & Barbuda
- His Excellency Sir Arthur Foulkes – The Commonwealth of the Bahamas and Lady Foulkes
- His Excellency Sir Colville Young – Belize
- His Excellency Dr Nicholas Liverpool – The Commonwealth of Dominica and Mrs. Liverpool
- His Excellency Sir Carlyle Glean – Grenadaand Lady Glean
- His Excellency Sir Cuthbert Sebastian – The Federation of St. Christopher & Nevis
- Her Excellency Dame Pearlette Louisy – St Lucia
- His Excellency Sir Frederick Ballantyne – St Vincent & the Grenadines and,
- His Excellency Professor George Richards – The Republic of Trinidad & Tobago
For 14 years, the Presidents and Governors-General of the Caribbean have been meeting for collaboration, fellowship and strengthening of the bonds which keep us together as a Community. I wish to recognize and thank Sir Howard Cooke, former Governor-General of Jamaica who was one of the founders of this Conference, for the role he played. Unfortunately Sir Howard is not able to be with us today. Also Professor Sir Kenneth Hall, my predecessor who impressed upon me the importance of this Conference and gave me valuable suggestions for its planning. The Governor-General from Canada, the Rt Honourable David Johnston should also have been with us but his schedule would not allow him, and the Governor-General of Barbados retired on October 31. Everyone else is present and accounted for.
Ladies and gentlemen as you can see from your Programme, the theme for this year’s Conference is “Building Together for the Future.” We hope that from the discussions at the Working Sessions, we will be able to identify and agree on principles, policies, methodologies, and activities that will enable us to carry out our roles in our respective countries even more effectively than at present.
As much as everyone here would like to live forever, alas, we can’t do so on this side of eternity, so if we are to be relevant to our theme we have to give significant attention to our youth. Therefore issues involving our youth will definitely command our attention at this Conference. Our first working session, for example, will look at “Engagement, Transformation and Empowerment of Youth”. In this session you will hear about an exciting, and critically important programme being coordinated by our private sector in Jamaica. The I Believe Initiative, which I have launched and which has strong private sector support, will also be the subject of an address today by a member of its Advisory Committee.
We will deal with educational development in the Region and discuss matter of protocol. In addition to some housekeeping matters and issues relevant to us as Governors-General, I am sure the sessions on “Initiatives of the Governor General and Their Impact on Nation-Building” and“Expanding the Role of the Governor General” will be of interest. In all, I think we should have a most interesting and memorable time together.
Through our working sessions, fellowship over lunch and dinner, and other extra-Conference interactions, our bonds will deepen and our friendships and camaraderie will be cemented. As has been demonstrated time and again in diplomacy, building relationship is pivotal. So many important deals have been struck, so many potential and actual conflicts and tensions averted and resolved because of the quality of relationships forged. If indeed, we are going to be “Building Together for the Future“, then our bonds will be the foundation of that architecture.
This is my first Conference and I am looking forward to it! I am sure our visitors will enjoy the tour of Kingston as well as getting out of the City to bask in what over a million tourists come every year to see and share.
Welcome again to this Conference. I hope you will enjoy it as well as your stay in Jamaica.