HAVANNA, Cuba – Bahamas Minister of Foreign Affairs & The Public Service Hon. Fred Mitchell MP states that he is honored to be in Havana to mark the formal opening of the newest Bahamian Embassy.
“I wish to thank you all for coming to this evening’s reception. This follows years of hard work and months of planning and preparation. Credit must go to all of my predecessors in office, to the Prime Minister and my Cabinet colleagues, Parliamentary colleagues and the Bahamian people for making this a reality. I am happy that some of them are able to join us here this evening”.
I should like to recognize my Ministerial colleague the Hon. Melanie Griffin, Tennyson Wells, Member of Parliament, Whitney Bastian, Member of Parliament, Keod Smith, Ambassador for the Environment and Member of Parliament as well as a part of the former Select Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Assembly. I wish also to recognize the Permanent Secretary and Head of the Foreign Service Dr. Patricia Rodgers who led the planning for the establishment of this embassy.
In particular, I would like to thank the Ambassador Carlton Wright and his wife Audrey Wright and their family for all the hard work that went into making it possible to do what we are doing here today.
Foreign Minister, I am honored that you were able to take time out of your busy schedule to attend this reception. The Bahamas believes that it ought to have friendly relations with all of its neighbors, and Cuba is one of our closest neighbors.
Today, I asked our attaché to plot the distance between Bahamian territory and Cuba and at its nearest point we could be as close as twenty miles. That means that in geographical terms we are closer than any other neighbor. The facts of history and geography mean that we must work together for peace and stability in the region.
I wish also to extend greetings to the President and people of the Republic of Cuba on behalf of the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
We know that as time progresses that there is much work that we will do together. There is the work that we do to prevent illegal migration, to stop people smuggling and drug trafficking. There is also the technical cooperation provided by your country in the fields of medicine, agriculture, science and education. We hope in the not too distant future to be able to sign a technical cooperation agreement which will provide the framework for our future co-operation.
I am advised that in 1994 some 20,000 visas were issued to Bahamians to visit Cuba. Clearly, this is a country of interest to our citizens. We are here therefore to look after the interests of Bahamians here in Havana, and to do so at the highest level of contact and access between sovereign states, that of ambassadorial level. To Bahamians who need the services of an embassy, that friendly voice away from home is now here and ready to formally begin business on 24th July.
I wish to say that during our visit our delegation has been shown the utmost respect and courtesies. This has made our stay here most productive.
It is my wish that the Embassy’s premises will be a beacon of what being Bahamian means to all who use its services, the values for which we stand.
I wish to thank the British Government for all of the assistance that they have provided for our country in Havana over the years.
I am pleased that The Bahamas is able to join the fraternity of Caricom countries who have embassies in Cuba. I am sure that the Ambassador looks forward to working with you all.
Once again, I thank you all for coming and we look forward to working together for the betterment of relations between the two states and for peace and good relations amongst all the nations of the world.