`There is power in unity’ – Botswana Ambassador to CARICOM
A strong working relationship between Botswana and the Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) would go a long way to ensuring growth and a stronger voice on issues which concern them such as climate change, gender equality and the fight against terrorism and nuclear disarmament, Her Excellency Bernadette Rathedi said on Thursday.
Ambassador Rathedi, who was accredited as the first Plenipotentiary Representative of Botswana to CARICOM, underscored the need for “our countries and regions” to make greater efforts to work together and strengthen one another in advancing common concerns on the international scene.
“There is, indeed, power in unity,” she told the audience at the CARICOM Secretariat after she presented her letters of credence to Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, CARICOM Secretary-General.
In his remarks, Ambassador LaRocque highlighted Botswana’s progressive establishment of formal relations with CARICOM Member States that began with Guyana in 1978. Botswana, he recalled, was one of few African countries with accredited diplomatic representatives to all CARICOM Member States. Those ties have been strengthened through shared membership in the Commonwealth, the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and the United Nations.
The Secretary-General pointed to the similarities between Botswana and CARICOM Member States such as their experiences with the global financial and economic crisis, the quest to diversify their economies, and economic activities being pursued such as tourism, agriculture and financial services.
“As the Community seeks to deepen ties with the African continent, through strengthened relations with individual states and sub-regions, Botswana presents itself as a meaningful interlocutor with CARICOM States in this regard. Your position as the headquarters country for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as well as a willingness in seeking to strengthen relations at this time augurs well for our close collaboration. Indeed, the two Communities face similar development challenges in the process of regional integration and cooperation,” he said.
Ties between CARICOM and SADC were also a point of reference for Ambassador Rathedi who indicated that her country supported the continuing cooperation between the Community and SADC and between the Community and the African Union. Such collaboration, she said, would improve market access between the two Regions, improve opportunities for trade and investment and people to people interaction.
The new Ambassador also relayed the gratitude of Botswana and the Southern African region for CARICOM’s “invaluable contribution to the liberation struggle in our region”.
“We still remember vividly, the active and very bold positions of the Caribbean countries that contributed to the efforts to end colonialism and apartheid in our part of the world. Today, the Southern Africa region boasts of relative peace and stability, thanks to the enduring support of the Caribbean Community and that of other friends in other parts of the world,” she said.
Comparing the resilience and resistance to colonial rule and apartheid to the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Ambassador Rathedi assured the Community that her country commended and supported the Region’s initiative for the construction of a permanent memorial at the United Nations to honour victims of slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade. She said the memorial would be instrumental in raising awareness and educating future generations on the history of the slave trade.