Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, has hailed the longstanding friendship between Jamaica and the European Union (EU) and pointed to the need for the two to build a bolder path towards achieving shared goals.
Senator Johnson Smith was addressing a virtual cultural extravaganza on Sunday (May 9) to mark Europe Day. The one-hour show, which featured cultural performances and messages from government officials, was broadcast on the social media platforms of the EU and the Jamaica Information Service (JIS).
Senator Johnson Smith said that over the 46 years of diplomatic ties, Jamaica and the EU have partnered in critical areas such as maternal and child health, poverty reduction, justice sector reform and public financial management.
She pointed out that the EU and Jamaica have also collaborated on climate change resilience, noting that this area is especially important to Jamaica as a small island developing state.
“We are excited to explore further areas of cooperation in digital transformation, sustainable development and citizens’ security,” she said.
The Senator noted that this year’s Europe Day observance was taking place when EU member states and other countries around the globe are combatting the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and lauded the EU for its support to Jamaica’s efforts against the virus.
“Jamaica is deeply grateful that the EU has offered tangible support to our own efforts to combat the pandemic, and we commend you as one of the largest contributors to the COVAX (COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access) facility,” she said.
The Senator said that Jamaica is looking forward to building stronger ties with the EU as the country “moves towards a new paradigm in our relations to consolidate and implement the new Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS)-EU partnership agreement”.
“We now have an opportunity to chart a bigger, bolder and better path together as we work on the basis of our shared values towards achieving our development aspirations embodied in the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals),” she added.
EU Ambassador to Jamaica, Marianne Van Steen, in her message, said that the long-standing relationship between Jamaica and the EU has evolved from being one of “donor and recipient to one of partners”.
She noted that one of the most important lessons learned is that unity is important to overcome difficult challenges and “it is not sufficient anymore to unite between ourselves”.
“We also have to unite with others. In a challenging geopolitical environment, we have realised that, more than ever, we need our allies, we need our friends. In order to protect the values and beliefs that are so dear to us, we have to reach out to those to whom those same values and beliefs are as dear to them as they are to us,” she added.