Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding, on July 2, heaped praises on former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. P. J. Patterson, after he was conferred with the Order of the Caribbean Community (OCC). This took place at the opening ceremony of the 30th regular meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of Caricom in Georgetown, Guyana.
In congratulating Mr. Patterson, the Prime Minister said he had done Jamaica and the region proud through his many years as a leading negotiator for the movement. Mr. Golding acknowledged Mr. Patterson’s multi-faceted contribution to the Community’s growth and the role he played in the region’s integration process.
Describing himself as an unrepentant regionalist, Mr. Patterson told the gathering of Caricom heads of state, government and associate members of Caricom, that the occasion was a day he would always treasure and never forget that he was joining the distinguished list of previous recipients who have made their stamp on the rich tapestry of the Caribbean.
However, he noted that “Our own national self interest demands that we widen, deepen and strengthen the Caribbean community. There simply is no other way out, especially in these rough and perilous times.” He said it was a fitting coincidence that the award was being conferred in the capital city of the Community where the Georgetown Accord of 1973 was signed, “and when heads gather here today for what is widely believed to be a meeting which will determine whether we swim safely ashore or drown separately in the Caribbean Sea.”
Former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. P. J. Patterson, gives nothing short of a ‘bear hug’ to Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding after Mr. Patterson was conferred with the Order of the Caribbean Community (OCC) on July 2 during the opening ceremony for the 30th regular meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of Caricom now underway in Georgetown Guyana.
Mr. Patterson said while it is true that the cynics who repeatedly have predicted the impending demise of the integration process were proven wrong, Caricom leaders must not assume that its perpetuity is inevitable.
He said the people of the Caribbean are eagerly waiting to hear whether the leaders will keep the boat afloat and if so how.
Mr. Patterson called on the heads to look beyond the global crisis and seize this as a defining moment to identify those areas where we can increase our productive capacity to provide greater food security, additional processing of raw materials, energy and mineral resources, tourism and its linkages with sports, entertainment and culture, and the growing entertainment sector.
The Caricom heads will continue their deliberations tomorrow morning (July 4) at 9:00am as they continue to search for solutions to the global crisis and its impact on the region, issues of migration within the region, and challenges to the tourism industry.