Dominicans have been urged to embrace freedom of movement within the region as the country celebrates its 35th year of Independence from Britain.
President Charles Savarin in his message to the nation said this must be done to give meaning and relevance to the regional integration movement.
“We must embrace the freedom of movement and right of establishment provisions of the CARICOM (Caribbean Community) and OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) treaties and welcome our OECS and CARICOM citizens who take up residence here in much the same way that we would expect to be welcomed in other CARICOM and OECS countries in which we seek to reside and work. Our CARICOM Community Passport is one of the most tangible symbols which identifies us as citizens of a wider Caribbean community”.
“If we truly embrace regional integration as the way forward for our overall development, we must refrain from statements and actions which in their ordinary meaning could be interpreted as being insular, hateful, racist and xenophobic. In a democracy, we must tolerate differences in opinion on a whole range of subject matters including matters of policy and national development. Debate on such issues must be respectful of other people’s views, of the law and the Constitution, and should not degenerate into acrimonious exchanges aimed at destroying the personal or public reputation of those with whom we disagree,” he added.
The President also acknowledged Martinique and Guadeloupe’s interest in becoming members of CARICOM and the OECS.
“The economic and social benefits of such expanded regional integration are tremendous, especially for us here in Dominica as we are located between these two overseas departments of France”.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit in his address said Dominicans should reflect on the advances made as a nation.
“The road has not always been easy, but we have persevered and in the process, we have lifted Dominica to be a strong performer in moving towards achievement of the targets of the Millennium Development Goals and we have managed to place some of our nationals on the regional and the world stage.”
“At independence we focus on nation building. However, nation building does not only occur during the few weeks of celebration when our culture takes the forefront. Our nation is at a pivotal point in its development. Though we have made tremendous strides, there is still more work to be done. There is still more to achieve. There is still more to celebrate. We must do our best because where mortals have done their best angels can hardly do much better,” he said.
Opposition leader, Hector John, acknowledged the sacrifices made over the years by the people.
“These unwavering sacrifices must be deeply rooted in the respect and true appreciation for the dictates of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Dominica. The Constitution should be uncompromisingly and meticulously followed and fulfilled. This provides us with the assurance that our democratic process is thriving successfully,” he noted.
The theme of the independence celebrations is “One Mission, One Dominica, Celebrating 35.”