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Opening Remarks By Secretary-general, Caribbean Community Ambassador Irwin Larocque At The Meeting Of CARICOM-Australia Foreign Ministers Perth, Australia, 24 October 2011

Posted in: Speeches by admin | 24 October 2011 | Release Ref #: 388/2011 | 2381

    ​(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Good afternoon. Our time is short and our agenda substantive and important. I will therefore be brief.

    I must begin by extending my deep appreciation and early congratulations to the Government of Australia and most particularly to you Minister Rudd, and the staff of your Ministry, for what I have no doubt will be an excellent CHOGM Meeting enveloped, as it is, by critical bilateral Meetings such as this. The hospitality of your government and people has already been felt by the CARICOM delegations here in Perth and for this we say thank you.

    It would also be remiss of me to not register our appreciation to Australia for its kind invitation to the Governments of Haiti and of Suriname to be here for these deliberations. It is our hope that this will set a precedent for future meetings of the Commonwealth at which issues of importance to CARICOM’s full membership are discussed. While Haiti has not found it possible to be here with us today, I wish to recognize the presence of the delegation from Suriname.

    Following the remarks of the CARICOM Co-Chair, I wish only to underscore the great importance that CARICOM places on the Australia- CARICOM relationship. From promising beginnings, marked by the first historic CARICOM-Australia Summit and the signature of a technical cooperation Memorandum of Understanding in November 2009 in the margins of a Caribbean-hosted CHOGM, to today’s Meeting, held, meaningfully, in the margins of an Australian-hosted CHOGM, our relations have surpassed, I daresay even our own expectations. Discussions between CARICOM Foreign Ministers and the Foreign Minister of Australia have become a regular practice and Australia has become a development partner which the Community holds in high regard.

    In international fora at which CARICOM is not represented, we have entrusted some of the issues most critical to us, such as our positions on climate change, on environmental and sustainable development, on reform of the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and on representation within the G20, in the hands of our friends such as Australia. We are sure that you will make every effort to advance our positions on these issues of importance to our very survival, even in our absence.

    Honourable Minister, CARICOM has been overwhelming in its support of Australia’s candidature to the United Nations Security Council for the period 2013-2014. This support is anchored in a trust that has been engendered by the energetic new foreign policy thrust outlined by Australia which sees your country embracing a widening network of partners, even as far away as the CARICOM Region and your government’s genuine interest in and concern for small states, such as those of the Pacific and of the Caribbean Community. Your convening of the Meeting tomorrow between Foreign Ministers of the Commonwealth and Small Developing States testifies to this.

    Today, we will discuss key initiatives which have an impact on the quality of life of CARICOM and Australian peoples - youth development and empowerment, reducing and preventing Non-Communicable Diseases, coral reef management and the Caribbean Sea as a special area in the context of sustainable development. I am sure therefore, that our deliberations will be focused, substantive and mutually satisfactory.

    I end then with wishes for productive discussions and thank you again Minister Rudd, for facilitating this exchange.