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Farewell Remarks by Ambassador Jernej Videtič
August 19, 2019
Honourable Minister Cummings,
Honourable Dr Barton Scotland, Speaker of the National Assembly
Members of the Government,
Other Representatives of the Guyanese State,
Member of the Diplomatic Corps,
Members of the Honorary Consular Corps,
Members of the Media,
Other Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is our pleasure, mine and my wife's, to host today this farewell event. Welcome ! I hope it will be an event to remember !
I imagine you are wondering why the dress code is a floral motif today. Flowers and birds are what make your country so colourful. Remember, Georgetown was called the garden city of the Caribbean. So, we thought let's make our farewell colourful and natural to be in tune. Kristina, a colleague of the Delegation, and the DJ will keep the radiant mood going. To have a taste of Europe, Miss Oliveira will be baking crêpes. But first …
Looking back, I can say it has been an enriching diplomatic experience to work in Guyana, especially the Caribbean dimension, the vastness of the sea and many small islands, each with its specificities, culture, language. Guyana is embracing the Caribbean and sheltered by a massive forest with mighty rivers cutting through the lands, enabling communication with the interior and at the same time producing barriers for trade and mobility of goods and people. As the EU is and has been for decades the main donor for building and maintaining the sea wall, I have had the chance to understand better the intricate water system that makes your economy to grow – the agriculture of sugar and rice, vegetables and fruits, fisheries, shrimps and prawns, honey from the rainforest. We enjoyed on our table all of what you produce, mixing European and Guyanese dishes. We didn't see all of your land, not every corner of it, I wish we had time for that but we were too busy with the education of our daughter, Celeste, who had the chance as well to pass here 3 exams ABRSM for theory and violin, too busy also with the diplomatic activities that are, I must say, quite intensive. The EU Delegation also covers the Dutch Antilles and the aftermath of the disaster produced by hurricanes Irma and Maria are still keeping us busy. Guyana luckily is not in the hurricane belt, what makes you vulnerable is climate change and the rising sea level.
The future ACP-EU Agreement, specifically the Caribbean pillar, will - I believe - be more focused on supporting your efforts in mitigating climate change effects, implementing the SDGs, protecting your forest and the biodiversity. In the area of forestry, we have made big progress by initialling the Voluntary Partnership Agreement that addresses the sustainable governance of your forests which will simplify the process for forest operators to export to the EU market under a FLEGT licence. The ACP-EU Agreement part on political relations identifies respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law, as important principles that countries are called upon to establish in their environments. Based on these principles we had regular political dialogues with Guyana where we discussed our mutual relations with frankness and openness. Meeting these fundamental values is also the criteria on which our donor activities are based – they are also stated in our Financial Agreements.
The EU Delegation is - as you can see - specific as it combines the political and financing for development dimensions, the two dimensions are mutually interdependent, they intertwine more and more, and in addition other areas of the EU activities gravitate towards like trade, environment, justice, security.
In this sense the EU is reaching out to other partners around the world. I am happy to see that European companies like Tullow and Total (Eco Atlantic) have made a huge discovery in the Orinduik Block. This will have a significant impact on our future trade relations – principally because Guyana economy will grow exponentially. You will be able to look for quality and I think you know the finest quality products and services are made in the EU – from watches to airplanes, from fashion to design, from nano to space technology – and I hope we will be able to make it easier for you to travel to Europe – visa free.
On this positive note, my vision of how I see the relations between Guyana and the EU to grow, let me express my sincere and special thanks to all the staff at the EU Delegation. Thanks to Julie and Sharmilla, Ruta's right hand at the residence for the receptions and Rohit, our gardener, who makes sure this garden is always shining some flowers.
I am happy that I am moving on to a new challenge in Papua New Guinea, which I read in Guyana's newspapers is dealing with similar issues, being rich in natural resources.
Thanks to President David Granger and his government, to the Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo and his team and to all other political players with whom I have interacted during my stay here. Thanks to the business community and in particular the European businesses operating here in Guyana.
Thanks to our civil society partners and thanks to my colleagues in the diplomatic community particularly those from the ABC countries for the excellent cooperation we have had especially on the political issues.
Last but not least, thanks to Ruta always standing by my side, at all time.
Thank you ! Let's enjoy the evening !
Remarks by Dr The Hon Karen Cummings, Minister of Foreign Affairs
August 19, 2019
Your Excellency Jernej Videtič
Honourable Ministers of Government
Members of Parliament
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Allow me a few reflections as we bid farewell to the distinguished EU Ambassador. By their nature, farewells are invariably bitter sweet. In this context, bitter, because in his leaving Guyana loses a friend. Sweet - because of the possibilities of new beginnings and advancement.
Excellency, your tenure has been marked by efforts to promote the shared goals and values of Guyana and the EU. This has been achieved through a strong programme of political, economic and development cooperation in Guyana.
Indeed, under your leadership, the European Union Delegation in Guyana has consolidated its place as one of the foremost development partners of Guyana. This has been accomplished in various ways. Particularly, you have facilitated the expansion of collaboration beyond traditional areas, through the provision of technical assistance and cooperation to address varied challenges, including those related to the pursuit of sustainable development – the response to climate change through building adaptation capacity and resilience, enhancing food security, sustainable wildlife management, rural development, gender empowerment, youth employment, enhancing governance and improving competitiveness.
Guyana considers the European Union a valued partner in human and economic development. Under your tenure the European Union through the 11th EDF National Indicative Programme (2014-2020) has allocated funding for the promotion of sustainable development in Guyana. We are now in a better position to focus on climate change adaption, disaster reduction and sustainable infrastructure.
For this and many other good reasons, it is well-known that the relationship between Guyana and the European Union is one to which the Government and people of Guyana attach a high priority. Needless to say, this relationship is of long standing that has matured primarily within the ambit of successive Lomé Conventions and the current ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement. You leave Guyana – EU cooperation in good health. We therefore anticipate its continued growth and development.
As the baton is passed we must continue to build and the successor arrangement to the Lomé / Cotonou framework within the context of the ACP is a priority. As we seek to achieve a sustainable economy, we salute the efforts of the partnership of the ACP and the EU to negotiate a single, legally binding, long-term agreement that builds on previous accords by having an overarching ACP-EU foundation and three regional protocols (EU-CARIFORUM, EU-Africa and EU-Pacific). There is great optimism that the new Agreement will make a meaningful contribution to the realisation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
For our part, Guyana attaches importance to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and is unequivocal in its commitment to the principles of sustainable development and to working with the international community and regional groups to advance issues that relate to sustainability. Guyana’s efforts towards ensuring a sustainable future are underpinned in the elaboration of the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS). The GSDS is fully aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and will serve as Guyana’s national developmental plan that outlines a medium-term strategic vision and guide for economic, social and environmental development.
Our shared commitment to the green economy was evident with the signing of the Guyana-EU Foreign Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT VPA) on November 23, 2018 in Brussels. This will allow for the continued pursuit of our mutual interest toward strengthening sustainable and legal forest management, governance as well as promoting trade in legally produced timber. The Government of Guyana looks forward to continued support with the EU to promote these economic and developmental priorities.
The European Union through the advancement of multilateral approaches and advocacy for sustainable human development has continually sought to cooperate with Guyana on global development issues. In this regard, I wish to make mention of the coming on stream of Spotlight Initiative as one of your definitive legacies.
The Spotlight Initiative is a joint undertaking by European Union and the United Nations, which seeks to fund new programmes to support concrete measures to end domestic and gender-based violence. Violence against women and girls affects all societies, cutting across generational, socio-economic, educational and geographic boundaries. Guyana views the Spotlight Initiative as a demonstration of commitment by the international community to end violence against women and girls, as well as mainstreaming of gender equality. The Government of Guyana welcomes these concrete endeavours and reaffirms its commitment to implementing all measures to end domestic violence.
Excellency, I am confident that as you leave Guyana, you will do so, no doubt, with a measure of satisfaction in contributing to the reaffirmation of the European Union’s commitment to supporting Guyana and its people in the attainment a more prosperous, cohesive and inclusive society. We will continue to strengthen our partnership with the European Union.
Ambassador, I am delighted on behalf of the Government and people of Guyana to express our deep appreciation and gratitude for your contributions which have significantly enhanced our mutual ties. Your efforts have given impetus to the development and consolidation of relations between Guyana and the European Union. As you leave we bid you a fond farewell and express the hope that you and your family will enjoy equal and even greater success in your future endeavors. May pleasant memories of your tenure in Guyana linger with you and know that you are always welcome to return and visit.
I thank you.