Hon. Musikari Kombo, President of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly

H.E Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Secretary General of the ACP

H.E Donald Ramotar, President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana

Honourable Members of Parliament of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana,

Honourable Members of the Corps Diplomatique,

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

As we heard all the topics that the President of Guyana raised in his speech, I thought to myself, “what are you going to say?”. I want to thank our friend and President Donald Ramotar for what he said to us and ask the audience once again, to put your hands together for the President of Guyana.

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Suriname!

In the past two days – so I’ve learned you have been engaged in deliberations, but I hope you were able to get a glimpse of the city of Paramaribo, as well as get a sense of our multicultural society and cuisine. According to my information, the best is still to come in the days ahead.

The road leading to this day has been a fairly bumpy one, due to a disturbance by a few who are as yet unable to adapt to the reality of today’s decolonised world. We are pleased to note that the majority of our European Union partners, on the contrary, are attuned to the changed relations among sovereign nations.

Here in Suriname, there never existed a moment of doubt with regard to the hosting of this important meeting in our capital, Paramaribo, in the face of common challenges, unity and solidarity remain the key vehicles to overcome obstacles to our shared progress.

Our strong belief in the solidarity among the African, Caribbean and Pacific brothers and sisters under ACP leadership, is confirmed today. I convey my Government’s sincere gratitude for this.

Mr President,

The ACP Parliamentary Assembly and the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly provide unique platforms for representatives to discuss, in an open and frank manner, issues that affect the lives of their peoples, in a spirit of transparency, mutual respect and benefit.

Members of parliament are an important tool in finding – in close cooperation with their respective governments – solutions for the needs of our peoples. Various successful programs and projects can be attributed to the active involvement of you, parliamentarians.

Mr President,

The ACP Group of States finds itself at a crossroads now. The [European Commission's proposed] Agenda for Change, formulated in 2011, has profound and immediate impact. Indeed, there is reason to believe that the very existence of the Organisation is in danger.

The Working Group on the Future of the ACP, under the leadership of Ambassador Patrick Gomes, has provided us with valuable insights into the future of the ACP Group. This topic will also be discussed at the Malabo Summit coming December. It stresses the importance of South-South cooperation, which must be a prerequisite in creating more adequate economic models and reach sustainable development. In this regard, the proposal to establish an ACP Bank merits our attention.

The ACP has shown its strength and remains a considerable force of 79 countries that cannot be overlooked. From this strategic position, however, follows our responsibility as individual states to create order in our national economies. It is only the combination of both which will enable us to chart our own paths of development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Regional integration remains an important vehicle for the development of our regions and countries. As former chairman of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of CARICOM, I called for new ways of cooperation. We introduced, in particular, the CARICOM Enterprises initiative, to consist of Economic Joint Ventures in the field of gold, energy, water and agriculture and so on.

We strongly believe in this approach, which will enhance our own capacities to generate growth and development, and to lower our dependency on foreign aid.

I challenge the ACP Group to similarly think outside the box, and promote closer cooperation among different sectors of our societies. We have the resources to do exactly what is needed for our survival and development.

It is, furthermore, our view that culture is an important instrument to build bridges among nations. In this context I consider it a privilege to inform the Assembly that Suriname will be hosting the Thirteenth Caribbean Festival of Arts, better known as CARIFESTA, in August 2013. We hope to maximise this special opportunity to bring together, not only our Caribbean sister nations, but also the whole of South and Latin American nations, united in UNASUR and CELAC.

Therefore, I invite all of you to join us in the celebration of CARIFESTA next year, for I guarantee that it will be an unforgettable experience.

Distinguished Members of Parliament, ladies and gentlemen,

I call upon you to put in all your efforts in deepening the relations that exist among us. It is in our interest to shift the balance in our favour by vigorously promoting cooperation among ourselves.

I wish you fruitful deliberations and an enjoyable stay in Suriname!