While accepting the CARICOM award of Order of the Caribbean Community, at the recent CARICOM Summit in St. Kitts, Sir Edwin used the occasion to reflect on his years at the helm of the organization and to provide a forecast for the future.
Carrington in his opening comments was somewhat nostalgic, “I find it remarkably coincidental that I paid my first visit to this lovely two island state in 1971, as part of the Caribbean Free Trade Association, CARIFTA Secretariat. This was the first visit of that organization around the Caribbean countries, preaching the gospel of regionalism.”
“Twenty years later, in 1991, I had the pleasure of being here as part of the delegation of Trinidad and Tobago, for the Heads of Government Conference. It was at that meeting, the Order of the Caribbean Community, OCC, was adopted and the decision taken to make the first awards to William Demas, Shridath Rampal, and Derrick Walcott.”
“Another 20 years later, I am here again today, in St. Kitts & Nevis, this time, myself, to receive the Order of the Caribbean Community…what a coincidence,” said Carrington.
He said he cannot find words adequate to convey his thanks and appreciation to the Caribbean Community for the award, and the invaluable opportunity afforded him over the years to serve his region. “It is an opportunity that the Government of Trinidad & Tobago have now extended, by appointing me ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the Caribbean Community, CARICOM,” said the diplomat.
“As we pursue the goal of regional development, in a community for all, and I have no doubt that we must, because there is no viable alternative…I commit myself to contribute in any way possible, now, pushing from the outside, rather than the many years I spent pulling from the inside,” said Sir Edwin.
He said that though he has left the CARICOM Secretariat, he was not leaving integration.
He gave his final word of advice to CARICOM Heads….”If we are to succeed in this quest for integration and community for all, it is critical, indeed indispensable, that our youth become fully engrossed in the nature and content of the integration process from their very earliest education,” he stated.
“Integration we must always remember is not an overnight achievement. Moreover, it is not for the faint of heart. Look at the struggles the European Union is undergoing at this time, over the single currency, “opined the former Secretary General.
He reminded leaders that “CARICOM is the only integration movement where virtually all its members are separated from each other by sea, except for two. And as a combination of small countries…it is no easy task, but we do not have a realistic alternative.”
“I continue to have faith, indeed confidence, that provided we proceed as a united people we can and we will succeed,” stated Edwin Carrington.
The CARICOM Heads have disclosed that a replacement or Sir Edwin will soon be announced. Carrington formally ended his tenure in January 2011.