- Mr Mark Golding Leader of the Opposition and Mrs Golding
- Senator the Honourable Kamina Minister of Foreign Affairs Johnson Smith and Foreign Trade and Mr. Smith
- Senator the Honourable Thomas Tavares Finson – President of the Senate and Mrs Tavares-Finson
- Honourable Marisa Dalrymple Philibert – Speaker of the House of Representatives
- The Honourable Mr Justice Brian Sykes Chief Justice and Dr Sykes
- The Honourable Mrs Marva McDonald Bishop Acting President of the Court of Appeal and Mr Bishop
- Ambassador Sheila Sealy Monteith Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and Head of the Jamaican Foreign Service
- Your Excellencies and Members of the Resident Diplomatic Corps
- Senator the Honourable Leslie Campbell Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
- Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my pleasure to have you join me this evening in the closing event for Diplomatic Week 2022. I extend an especially warm welcome to the distinguished High Commissioners, Ambassadors and Charges d’ Affaires.
The world has changed much since our last Dinner for the Diplomatic Corps in March 2020. It is, therefore, with a sense of cautious relief that Lady Allen and I host this event as a sign of the promising return to some normalcy.
The past two years have been difficult ones. As with all challenges, we have also been presented with opportunities to learn and grow. The increased use of virtual connectivity, for instance, has allowed us to remain in contact and to conduct business despite the unprecedented circumstances. More importantly, we have adapted and functioned with even greater levels of creativity and ingenuity. We are gratified that our bonds of friendship and partnership have been strengthened rather than weakened by the present realities.
As we closed 2021, we received the news of the untimely passing of His Excellency Dr. Stefan KYLE (Keil), Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, who had assumed duties only in August 2021. Let us remember him and the passion that he exuded for strengthening relations between Jamaica and Germany. Our thoughts and prayers remain with his family and loved ones, as well as with the staff at the Embassy in Kingston and the Foreign Ministry family.
Over the period of the pandemic, Jamaica established relations with two additional countries; the Republic of San Marino in September 2020 and the Togolese Republic in November 2021. This has brought the total number of countries with which Jamaica has diplomatic relations to 169. It bears witness to the Government’s mandate to increase Jamaica’s presence across the globe and allow for closer collaboration with traditional and non-traditional partners.
The Government and people of Jamaica appreciate the generous support you have given to Jamaica’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Your assistance in the form of vaccines, field hospitals, mobile medical units, equipment and contribution to other improvements to our health infrastructure has enabled us to weather the storm. I commend the willingness and readiness of the Diplomatic Corps to engage their countries on our behalf.
This year is of special significance to Jamaica, as we will celebrate 60 years of Independence in August. The Foreign Ministry will also commemorate its 60th Anniversary, and for both, a series of events and activities will be staged to recognise this important milestone.
Many of your countries have been with us on this journey from the outset. It is, therefore, our pleasure to be celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the establishment of diplomatic relations with 11 countries, eight of which have Diplomatic Missions in Kingston.
Even as we recognise these anniversaries, we look forward to being able to Build Forward Stronger Together and count on your continued collaboration. Our relations will always be underpinned by the bedrock of common goals, ideals and values, as well as a shared commitment to WORLD PEACE, human rights, international understanding, and global equitable and sustainable development.
Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am confident that our efforts will bequeath to our young people, a legacy of which we can be proud.
Our Dinner this evening, reflects that determination to recognise the close ties between our countries, celebrate the friendships between our peoples and reaffirm our shared commitment to enhancing our relations.
Lady Allen and I are grateful that you are able to be with us as we build on the excellent and enduring relations between Jamaica and your respective countries.