“The Commonwealth is a family of peoples, not just Governments” Says Douglas

“I believe strongly that our work here this past week has served to lend renewed credence and substance to this fact. I want to acknowledge the forums of civil society, business and youth, held in parallel with CHOGM, and the extremely valuable role these groups continue to play in strengthening our partnership and in spreading and deepening the values of the Commonwealth,” said Prime Minister Douglas in remarks during the closing session of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia.

Dr. Douglas, who was asked to speak by host Prime Minister and CHOGM Chairman Julia Gillard, congratulated his fellow Commonwealth Heads, “for the inspiring and committed manner in which you focused on this year’s theme; for adopting the important reforms of the CMAG; and for agreeing to many of the progressive recommendations of the Eminent Persons Group.”

The St. Kitts and Nevis leader also thanked the EPG members for their work to produce a very important report, which was and will continue to be considered with great seriousness by Leaders.

“As our countries continue to tackle, head-on, the issue of food security, I congratulate you for adopting the Perth Declaration on Food Security Principles; and for the collective agreement on strong and united advocacy on behalf of the Commonwealth membership at the global level, including upcoming meetings of the G20, Durban Climate Change, and Rio+20,” said Dr. Douglas, who also welcomed the timely initiative of the Australian government to convene the Special Meeting of Commonwealth and Developing Small States Foreign Ministers.

Prime Minister Douglas noted the Commonwealth’s unique value to small and vulnerable states in listening to and working for small states in a way that no other global organisation does.

“I will take away from this CHOGM, a reassurance and abiding faith that we are more than a mere institution or just a group of countries – but more importantly- we are a family of nations held together by a genuine belief in the values of democracy and growth of our people,” said Dr. Douglas.

He used the opportunity to thank Her Majesty the Queen for her attendance at this year’s CHOGM, for sharing her words of support and encouragement and for her continued dedication to her role as Head of the Commonwealth, adding: “I know that we all look forward to celebrating her Diamond Jubilee next year.”

In thanking the Government and People of Australia, Prime Minister Douglas expressed gratitude for their outstanding warmth, attention to detail and for their memorable hospitality which drew him in almost immediately after arriving in Perth.

“I also felt a sense of connection, which I initially attributed to the hospitality. But I later realised that my connection to Australia went much deeper than that. I soon discovered that the first Chief Justice of Western Australia, Sir Reginald Paul Burt was born in St. Kitts and migrated here in the late 1900s,” said Prime Minister Douglas.

Special mention was made of host Prime Minister and chair of CHOGM, Julia Gillard and outgoing Chair, Kamla of Trinidad and Tobago.

“My very special thanks also to you, Madam Chairperson, for your skilled stewardship and for so ably steering the meetings. And to my colleague Heads, I say a heartfelt thank you for your studious and engaged participation in the important deliberations over the last few days. I would like to recognise and thank personally the distinguished Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar the outgoing Chair-in-Office, for her contributions, dedication and for working so tirelessly during her time in the chair to deliver concrete results for women as agents of change,” said the distinguished St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister who also thanked the Commonwealth’s Foreign Ministers and Senior Officials for their efforts and hard work – which took several, sometimes, long days of involved deliberation – to prepare the ground for Heads’ deliberations.

“My gratitude also to Mr. Kevin Rudd, Foreign Minister of Australia for his astute management of those deliberations, his patience and good humour. I thank all the staff – both from Australia and from the Commonwealth Secretariat – who have worked so diligently behind the scenes, not only to make CHOGM happen, but to ensure its success as we witnessed this week,” said Prime Minister Douglas.

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