Remarks delivered by the Hon. Peter David, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Grenada – ALBA summit 10 June 2020.
Comrade Chairman, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates. It is an honour to address this meeting on behalf of the Government and People of Grenada.
I am particularly pleased with and must acclaim the fraternal ties between Grenada and Venezuela and the member countries of ALBA-TCP. I wish to express my thanks to the Government and People of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, for their efforts in hosting this important meeting, even while our world is still plagued by the pandemic of Covid-19.
We would like to express our immense gratitude to the Governments of Venezuela, Cuba and China, for their extraordinary assistance to our country in securing and donating much-needed equipment and personnel for fighting Covid-19. They have done so in spite of their own challenges, and for that, we will always be appreciative. We also salute the World Health Organisation and the Pan American Health Organisation for the assistance to Grenada and the rest of the Caribbean region.
Grenada is pleased on this special occasion to reaffirm our commitment to the core principles of ALBA-TCP, and wish to assure all the member states of our support, in working to combat this dreaded virus.
We are meeting at a time in which this pandemic presents us with a wide scope of challenges that call for new and innovative approaches. There is need to strengthen our movement, the imperatives of solidarity, cooperation and partnership, in order to make progress in the battle against Covid-19. It is that strength of cooperation and solidarity that will enable us to surmount not only the health challenges of Covid-19, but also the economic shortfalls that will plague us in its wake. That same collective strength will help in the delivery of the economic, social and political benefits that our people expect, and certainly deserve.
We wish to reaffirm our commitment to the Caribbean Region as a zone of peace, and note, with concern, the disheartening moves on the part of some countries to alter this noble desire.
In this light, we continue to vigorously call for the total lifting of the embargo against Cuba, and the return of Guantanamo to Cuba. Comrades, we also call for the removal of the unjust and illegal sanctions against the people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The ALBA-TCP grouping has been good for Grenada and we will continue to stand in solidarity with our fellow members.
Grenada has benefitted from the range of assistance given by ALBA in the economic and social fields throughout the years. As I mentioned earlier, in this time of Covid-19, Grenada has already received critical support from Venezuela, in materials and equipment; and Cuba deployed a medical mission to assist us — like they have done for regions all across the world. For this we are eternally grateful.
As a small island developing state, our foreign policy is an essential asset, as we pursue development through the conscious effort of our nation, people, friends and allies.
Covid-19 is a global health crisis that has rapidly developed into a severe economic and financial crisis for us. Like many nations, we have faced enormous financial challenges with the need for testing, tracing, isolation and treatment — and the total lockdown to contain the spread of the virus. We have had to provide support for the most vulnerable sections of our population, especially many of our people working in the informal economy, who lost their livelihoods or at least suffered through a suspension of their livelihoods as a result of Covid-19. In addition, we had to mobilise resources to deal with adequate response and recovery measures for our economy.
We understand and appreciate the urgent need for collective action in this challenging and unprecedented period. We, therefore, wish to make a general call for goodwill, solidarity, dialogue and creative and decisive actions to stem this crisis.
As such, we must draw up and implement a bold crisis response package, and roadmap. Our specific actions must address health issues, which are critical to economic recovery and stability. The initiatives and recommendations adopted here today must address the imperatives of this crisis.
In the context of our common ambition, we must agree on potential areas of action. These actions must be focused on.
- Boosting initiatives in public health and socio-economic responses.
- Ensuring that diagnostics, treatment and vaccines are accessible to all.
- Exploring new ways to enhance collaboration among the members of ALBA in order to restart our economies.
- Making public investments in health and education systems, physical infrastructure, social protections and the expansion of social services, which bolster productive employment and produce sustainable growth, given how much the effects of Covid-19 have been felt by our most vulnerable.
- Promoting science and technology, to not only help in the prevention and treatment of this virus, but also in bringing it closer to industries that support the health sector.
- Attention must be given to trade among the members of this august body, as we must develop new ways of producing and exchanging goods and services among our member states.
- Greater collaboration and promotion of ALBA initiatives and capacity building must be undertaken, to create outlets for coordination and cooperation among our countries.
We must recognise that our cooperation and solidarity is an opportunity to achieve the sustainable future we want for our peoples. Covid-19 has demonstrated the value of solidarity in our organisation. It is only through working together in the fierce urgency of now, that we will contain the spread of the virus, and temper its impact on our vulnerable, because lives are at stake.
As we conclude this meeting, we must recognise the commitment, hard work and dedication that have contributed to the growth of our organisation. However, the task ahead is to strengthen the implementation of our initiatives in order to reach the goals we have set for ourselves. We must move resolutely, to strengthen partnerships, and increase focus on communication and dialogue, and embark on outreach for more active involvement of youth and women in our movement, and the deepening of our people to people ties.
In closing, we recommit to our common ties in the promotion of sustainable development, solidarity, equality, tolerance and respect for all.
Mr Chairman, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates All.
I thank you.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs