Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma visited St Kitts and Nevis from 12 to 14 May.
I was honoured to be received so warmly during my visit to St Kitts and Nevis, and I depart with an enriched and first-hand appreciation of a valued member of the Commonwealth, its national challenges and priorities.
During my visit, the Prime Minister Dr Rt Hon Denzil Douglas received me, and I am most grateful for the time he kindly set aside for our meetings. I also met with other members of the Government including the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Works, Housing and Utilities, Hon Asim Martin; the Minister of Justice, Homeland Security, Labour and Foreign Affairs, Hon Patrice Nisbitt; the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports, Information Technology, Telecommunications and Posts, Hon. Glenn Fitzroy Phillip; the Minister of Health, Social and Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs, Hon Marcella Althea Liburd; and the Attorney General Mr Jason Hamilton. I also called on the Leader of the Opposition, Hon Mark Brantley and the Premier of Nevis, Hon Vance Amory.
All of my meetings were purposeful and informative, and afforded the opportunity to gain an up-to-date perspective of how the Commonwealth’s work is viewed and how we may be of greater assistance and relevance to the people of St Kitts and Nevis.
This year - 2013 - marks the thirtieth anniversary of both independence and membership of the Commonwealth for St Kitts and Nevis, and it was therefore particularly timely to visit in order to underline that the Commonwealth remains committed to being a practical, active and relevant partner of St Kitts and Nevis in its national priorities and as this country progresses on its chosen path to economic resilience, sustainable development, and a strengthened and enduring culture of democracy.
In particular, in keeping with its solidarity with small states, the Commonwealth will continue to speak out internationally and to advocate on the interests of small island states on issues such as debt, access to climate change finance, and supporting human development.
The Commonwealth is establishing a High Level Mission on Small States Debt this year, which will be a small group of Commonwealth leaders, who will carry forward international profile raising and advocacy about the challenges of debt and liquidity faced by small states, and to look at practical approaches to overcome their challenges. I am very pleased to announce that the Prime Minister has accepted my invitation to chair and lead this Commonwealth High Level Mission, which among its activities will meet in Washington in October for discussions in particular with the leaders of key international financial institutions and Commonwealth and G20 economies. The Mission will then report the outcomes of its work to the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in November 2013.
St Kitts and Nevis has been a longstanding contributor to the shared resources of our association, which is reflected in particular in the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation. This country’s partnership in the CFTC has generated significant returns in the form of technical assistance, which notably includes more recently for St Kitts and Nevis:
As a result of my visit, we have agreed to deepen the Commonwealth’s partnership and collaboration with St Kitts and Nevis in the years ahead. We will pursue possibilities for new assistance in the following areas:
Our shared Commonwealth values, principles and goals – for the people of St Kitts and Nevis as for the citizens in all our 54 member states – are to be found in the Charter of the Commonwealth, which was adopted by Commonwealth leaders in December 2012 and signed by HM Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth, in March 2013. The Commonwealth Secretariat looks forward to advancing the Charter practically in St Kitts and Nevis through the new initiatives for collaboration that have arisen during this visit. Our objective is to provide every Commonwealth citizen with dignity, access to their rights, and opportunity.
I renew my deep appreciation for the courtesy and kindness extended to myself and my delegation, and I look forward to the opportunity of returning to St Kitts and Nevis in future.