Accepting Sir Edwin’s credentials, Ambassador LaRocque said it was a rare occasion that the Community had the opportunity to receive an accredited diplomat and a distinguished son of the soil, who was instrumental in advancing the regional integration movement and in building the Community.
His selection as Ambassador to CARICOM, Secretary-General LaRocque said, was testimony to Trinidad and Tobago’s commitment to the continued advancement of the Region. With an 18-year tenure at the helm of the Secretariat under his belt, earning him the distinction of the longest-serving Secretary-General, Sir Edwin also previously served as Chief of Economic and Statistics and a Director of Trade and Integration at the CARICOM Secretariat. He demitted office in December 2010.
Ambassador LaRocque, in his remarks at the ceremony, referred to Trinidad and Tobago’s “tremendous” contribution to the development of the Community, and told Sir Edwin that his extensive and expansive career in the Community allowed him to attain a level of “enviable familiarity and profound understanding of the issues” with which member states grapple as well as the goals of the Region.
“It is my full expectation that in your new capacity, you will bring your repository of knowledge and expertise to the table during the deliberations of the Community, so that we may continue to benefit from your breadth of insight and experience,” LaRocque said. The Secretary-General added that he was certain that in the new role as Ambassador, any advice Sir Edwin or his government offered would serve to strengthen even further, Trinidad and Tobago’s commitment to regionalism. Concurring with Secretary-General LaRocque’s remarks, Sir Edwin said that his new role was an opportunity through which his government hoped to enhance its contribution to CARICOM’s development “to which it is firmly committed.”
For Sir Edwin, the occasion was an historic one that ranked alongside the highest of “all my life’s professional experiences”, according to a statement from the Caricom Secretariat. He was entering this new relationship, he said, looking forward to another opportunity to contribute to the development of CARICOM “this time from the outside, as it was, of the Secretariat.”
He pointed out that the Community had made significant progress under its four pillars – Human and Social Development, Foreign Policy Coordination, Economic Integration, and Security – but juxtaposed those strides with the increasing challenges the Region faces, particularly those related to the external economic and political environments and “our own” implementation deficit.
“It is the recognition of this overall difficult situation, Mr. Secretary-General, which has driven me and some others to recommit to and to redouble our efforts to see in what way we can contribute to this struggle. For there is, in our view, no more effective way in which we can help to build a Caribbean Community worthy of our future and of that of our children, and I dare say our grandchildren as well. And, as you know Mr. Secretary-General – and I believe we share the following perspective – I have always firmly believed that the involvement and participation of our Youth in the integration process is of paramount importance to its future success,” Sir Edwin said.