(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) I take this opportunity to wish you all a happy New Year and a productive and prosperous 2015.
This year, our Community embarks on a new journey as we look at modes of implementation of our first-ever Five-Year Strategic Plan 2015-2019. This Plan is a bold step that demonstrates our determination to provide the best options for the growth and development of our people. This Plan is an important part of the Reform Process in our Community and we stand to be judged both by its success and the actions we take in its implementation. In repositioning our Community, as this Plan seeks to do, we will be aiming at making it more resilient to the internal and external factors which hinder our efforts at attaining sustainable development in a rapidly changing world.
There can be no more vivid demonstration of the dynamic nature of the global environment that we face than the recent rapprochement between Cuba and the United States. Those of us who have consistently called for an end to the isolation of our sister Caribbean country and, in particular, the cessation of the economic, trade and financial embargo are heartened by the initiatives announced by President Obama and President Castro. In my view this rapprochement underscores the urgency of a summit between the American President and the Heads of the Community.
This year also marks the beginning of negotiations for the United Nations Post-2015
Development Agenda which seeks to find a more effective route to the sustainable development of all States. This is of keen interest to our Community as it is important that the concerns of small vulnerable states like ours must be taken into account and acted upon. We have taken action in this regard by ensuring that our concerns and interests are part of the platform for the negotiations agreed to last September in Samoa by the grouping of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
As I assume the Chair of CARICOMfor the next six months, it will be my duty to work with my colleague Heads and the Secretary-General to lay the foundations for the implementation of our Strategic Plan. Of particular importance will be the high priority areas identified for focused implementation over the next five years. These will be critical as it is imperative we find the means to reverse the dire economic situation with which so many of us are faced.
I hope that you are all able to join us in Nassau on 26th and 27th of February for the Inter-sessional Meeting. I think that there will be an important discussion on the investment in the cultural development of our community including sports and music. There must be increased focus on this part of our human development as we look toward the future of the region. There is no question in my mind that increased emphasis on the development of young people should also be a central focus.
My predecessor as Chair, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Honourable Gaston Browne, has ably guided us through the last six months. The responsibility is now mine to continue to advance the interests of our Community and strengthen the integration process with the assistance of my colleague Heads of Government and the Secretary-General, and the support of the people of CARlCOM.
May we all have a blessed 2015.
Perry G. Christie
Commonwealth of The Bahamas