I warmly welcome all of you to King’s House this morning and extend my heartiest congratulations on having presented credentials as the emissaries of your esteemed governments, to Jamaica. It is my pleasure, also, to welcome you to Jamaica and I am indeed particularly happy that your first mission as new Ambassadors to Jamaica will be to participate in the activities of diplomatic week which is perhaps the most significant event on our diplomatic calendar each year.
I have received six of you today:
From Africa: His Excellency Daniel Antonio of Mozambique
From Europe: Her Excellency Mrs. Susanne Rromuhr of Denmark
His Excellency – Raymond Basset from Ireland
Her Excellency Mrs. Marina Perović Petrović of Serbia
His Excellency Mr. Claes Hammar of Sweden and
Her Excellency Mrs. Inci Tümay of Turkey.
I regret that as non-resident Ambassadors you will not be able to enjoy a longer period of stay in Jamaica, so that you can fully appreciate all that our beautiful island has to offer. I trust however that the activities that have been arranged for you during the course of the week will provide for a real Jamaican experience and a better understanding of our country. During the week you can expect to be briefed on our socio-economic and foreign policies and interact with various government officials and entities, and also be exposed to our culture and beautiful environs. I hope you will, through this experience, be inspired to visit often during your tenure and that through you the friendship between Jamaica and the countries you represent, will be enhanced.
Let me affirm from the outset the importance to Jamaica of the partnerships forged with your respective countries. We continue to enjoy long-standing and cordial relations with all of you and we remain committed to building on those relationships.
Ambassador Rumohr, let me say how much Jamaica values the strong commitment of Denmark and indeed the lead you have taken, along with Sweden, among the donor countries of exceeding the UN goal of contributing 0.7% of GNP to overseas development assistance. We hope that your example will be an encouragement to others.
Ambassador Hammar, since the establishment of diplomatic relations with Sweden in 1974, bilateral relations between our two countries have grown progressively over the years. Your country has supported our own efforts towards public sector pension reform and we are enthusiastic about exploring new avenues of collaboration with Sweden during your tenure.
High-Commissioner Antonio, our two countries have expressed in recent times, our desire to revitalize and strengthen our bilateral activities, building on a shared historical link that has underpinned our long-standing relations. We expect to explore opportunities for co-operation with Mozambique in areas such as tourism, culture, and education, through student exchanges at the tertiary level.
Ambassador Basset, the people of Jamaica have always felt a close affinity to the Republic of Ireland. The popularity of the Irish telecommunications company Digicel and the commitment of that company to corporate responsibility, have promoted your country well in Jamaica. We are keen to explore other opportunities for a vibrant cooperation programme in a number of areas.
Ambassador Petrivic, Jamaica and Serbia established diplomatic relations relatively recently, in 1996, but already there are encouraging prospects for enhancing our relations. We welcomed in 2010 the visit of your Foreign Minister to Jamaica and look forward to furthering our cooperation activities, including continuation of the education programme from which we now benefit.
And lastly, Ambassador Tumay, Jamaica and Turkey have in recent times taken steps to enhance the activities between us. The trade and economic cooperation agreement which we signed in 2001 came into effect in 2005 and the inaugural Jamaica/Turkey Joint Economic Commission was convened in 2007. We hope that through this mechanism other areas of cooperation can be explored to our mutual benefit. We also welcome the growing bonds of friendship and cooperation between Turkey and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
One of the highlights of diplomatic week is the State Banquet that Lady Allen and I will host here at King’s House this Thursday evening. We hope to whet your appetite with just a taste of Jamaican cuisine. You will also have the opportunity to interact socially with members of government, the diplomatic corps, as well as a wide cross section of eminent Jamaicans with whom you may wish to establish networks.
For those who will not be able to stay for the entire week, please accept our very best wishes for a safe return to your resident posts. We hope that you will find it possible to return often to Jamaica to follow up on the discussions and contacts that you will establish this week. For our part, we certainly look forward to welcoming you back to our beloved country next year for diplomatic week 2012.