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OECS Secretariat receives Spainís permanent representative

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Contact: Kendol Morgan-OECS

Castries, St. Lucia, January 23rd 2009 - The OECS Secretariat, on Wednesday January 21st received His Excellency Mr. Jesus Silva as the Permanent Representative of Spain to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

In the first ever ceremony of its kind held at the OECS Secretariat, Ambassador Silva presented his Letters of Credence to OECS Director General Dr. Len Ishmael. The ceremony was attended by a delegation from Spain, representatives of the diplomatic corps in St. Lucia and senior staff of the OECS Secretariat.

In welcoming the new Ambassador, Dr. Ishmael said his accreditation was a symbol of a new ethos in the OECS, in which the grouping of nine member countries is actively seeking to create strategic relationships in various parts of the world, on its own merit.

She spoke of the historic nature of the occasion, being the first time that credentials were being presented to the OECS by a country outside of the region and of the fact that this event was symbolic of the growing friendship between Spain and the OECS.

She expressed deep appreciation to Ambassador Silva for his strong personal commitment to the process and for extending the hand of friendship to the OECS, noting that his work has already facilitated the OECS participation, in its own right, at the 4th CARICOM/Spain summit in July 2008.

The Director General made reference to the Memorandum of Understanding between the OECS and the Spanish Diplomatic School in October 2008 which will provide assistance for training in diplomacy and protocol for OECS Nationals. As part of that agreement, the Diplomatic School will assist the OECS Secretariat with the operationalisation of its School for Protocol and Diplomacy for the OECS region, and will also offer up to two places yearly in its International Studies course to Foreign Service Officers of OECS Member States, students, and staff of the OECS Secretariat.

Ambassador Silva says his historic appointment as Spainís first Permanent Representative to the OECS signals another phase in the already deep relations between Spain and the Caribbean. Spain which is one of the fastest growing economies in Europe and the worldís 9th largest industrial power has stepped up investments in several Caribbean islands over the last ten years and hopes to expand to the entire region.

The Ambassador said an initial step in the OECS, was last yearís signing of the MOU between the OECS and the Spanish Diplomatic School. He said Spain is watching with admiration and respect the savvy process of OECS regional integration which he describes as Ďthe most successful model of integration besides the European Unioní. He sees the current process towards the establishment of an OECS Economic Union as a natural consequence of the successful Monetary Union, a well established institutional framework and an efficient Secretariat.

Ambassador Silva promised that the presentation of his credentials to the OECS is not the end of a process, only the beginning.

The OECS Member States are Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands.

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