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Closing address by H.E. Ivar Asjes

13th Overseas Countries and Territories-European Union Forum
Tortola, British Virgin Islands, 27 February 2015

Closing address by H.E. Ivar Asjes, Chair of the Association of Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union

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OCTA Ministerial Conference
26 February 2015
British Virgin Islands

Closing address by H.E. Ivar Asjes, Chair of the Association of Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union

-  Commissioner Mimica;
-  Premier Smith and other colleagues OCT Heads of Government;
-  Member of the European Parliament, Mr. Ponga,
-  Representatives of Member States,
-  Ladies and Gentlemen, Good afternoon.

Today marks the climax of a full week of activities. The Caribbean Regional Conference, the Trilateral Meetings, the OCT Ministerial Conference and last but not least today’s Forum have each served to bring us a step closer to a consensus on the main focus areas in which investments are to be made in order to promote the sustainable development of OCTs in the coming years.

This 13th OCT-EU Forum has particular significance as it is held one year into the existence of the new Overseas Association Decision and at the beginning of the programming cycle 2014 - 2020.

As Commissioner Mimica indicated this morning, the OAD is a reflection of a reciprocal relationship, based on mutual interests and values in which the ambitions of all parties are inclusive – aiming to reflect the realities of a post-2015 paradigm where results are tangible and measurable.

We have a noble mission to fulfill by working constructively together as OCTs and in partnership with the European Union and the Member States to build resilient, inclusive and sustainable societies. If we perennially hold on to that focus we will be able to deal with any and all of the challenges involved in managing an organization as diverse as OCTA.

With the assistance of all present we have first been able to agree on the single programming area for the regional envelope of the Caribbean. OCTs, Member States and the Commission have subsequently engaged in fruitful discussions during the Trilateral Meetings and in fruitful sessions the two sub-sectors of the thematic cooperation in the context of the 11th EDF for OCTs have been determined.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Consensus has been gained and from now on the onus of timely and proper implementation is on us. We all know from experience that the programming exercise is time-consuming and requires great effort. As OCTs, we are challenged to perform on time and in keeping with the quality standards that the Commission expects of us.

OCTA is committed to work closely with Member States and the Commission in all stages of the programming cycle in order to ensure that the interests of each of our members are looked after. Having said that, I would like to thank the member states and the Commission for a constructive relationship and fruitful cooperation.

2015 is a significant year for OCTA. Our strategic focus for the coming years must be in place within a matter of months and decisions have to be taken with regard to the future of our technical assistance project. There is thus important work to be done in the months ahead and as OCTA Chair I intend with the collaboration of all members to steer the process in a direction that is both realistic and beneficial to all members of the organization.

It’s imperative that we consolidate the successes of our organization and at the same time do our utmost to take it to the next level.

As Chair, I am committed to continue to promote the significance and visibility of OCTA at an international level.

OCTA firmly believes in “Strategic Partnerships as an instrument for Sustainable Development”. It is our intention to build those partnerships not only with the relevant external stakeholders of OCTA, but also within OCTA itself.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

2015 is not only an important year for OCTA but indeed for the rest of the world as well. This year the international community will sign off on a new development paradigm in which mankind and our planet are placed
at center stage. The new Sustainable Development Goals, which are to be the successors of the Millennium Development Goals, if successfully achieved, will lead to a transformation in mankind’s existence.

Towards the year 2030 it should be possible on a global scale to end poverty and hunger, achieve gender equality, attain sustainable production and consumption patterns, promote blue and green growth and attain global partnerships for sustainable development. This may sound like utopia, but mankind has no other choice than to set its existence on this planet on a sustainable footing. The alternative is unimaginable.

The Territorial Strategies for Innovation (TSI) project is a most promising EU initiative that has the potential to spur innovation in OCTs.

All nations -big and small- have to contribute to a more sustainable world. As OCTs we have a responsibility to fulfill and we therefore are expected to do our part. The association with the European Union enables us to contribute to the global efforts to make our planet more sustainable. This is one of the reasons why we cherish this association and wish to continue to work, within it, with the Commission and the Member States in a spirit of unity, equality and constructive partnership.

In closing, I would like to thank Commissioner Mimica, the Commission’s Services, the Government of the BVI, the Board of Chairs, Executive Committee and the Technical Assistance Team of OCTA for so ably putting together the activities of this week.

I thank you.

His Excellency, The Honourable Ivar Asjes, Prime Minister of Curaçao and Chair of the Association of Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union -(OCTA)