Speech by Ambassador Geert Heikens, European Commission

Speech by Ambassador Geert Heikens, Delegation of the European Commission to Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles on the occasion of the opening ceremony of the Caribbean Regional Information & Translation Institute (CRITI) Paramaribo, Suriname Wednesday 16 January 2008


It is a great pleasure to be with you this morning to assist in the opening of the Caribbean Regional Information and Translation Institute (CRITI).

The European Commission is supporting the establishment of the Caribbean Regional Information and Translation Institute (CRITI) with a grant of € 1.7 Million. Our support will be specifically financing equipment and materials, operational costs and services for professional translators, along with relevant training. A study for a business plan will also be financed by our support. The government of Suriname is strongly supporting this initiative by generously providing the building.

Our support to CRITI is part of the larger (Contribution) Agreement of €36.9 million, which the European Commission signed with CARICOM in April 2007. The other components in this larger package include: Support to the Caribbean Single Market and Economy, where about two-thirds of the resources have been allocated, and Support to the External trade negotiations carried out by CARIFORUM, among others.

Being one of the largest donors to the Caribbean over the last 30 years, the Commission’s overall 9th EDF resources allocated amounted to €57 Million for Regional Co-operation in the Caribbean for the period 2002- 2007. Added to these are some €300 million going to Regional projects from the EDF and from the Commission’s budget lines, for support to the banana, rum and rice industries, for the fight against HIV/AIDS, etc. For the 10th EDF, we have almost tripled the regional allocation by allocating € 165 Million over the next five-year period, a demonstration of the Commission’s continued commitment to the region.

In addition, to the multitude of resources mentioned above, the Commission also provides grant funding to individual CARIFORUM member states. For the 9th EDF, 2002-2007, over half a billion euros was allocated to these national programmes in the Caribbean. Suriname, being one such recipient, was allocated almost €20M of which more than half was allocated to the transport sector. Since 1975 Suriname has benefited from approximately € 165 M. in development aid from the Commission.

As you would know, the Caribbean Regional Information and Translation Institute (CRITI) has arisen primarily out of the language diversity of the region (English, French, Dutch and Spanish) and the translation and information demands taking place out of the wider and deeper cooperation and integration in CARICOM. CRITI will make official, semi-official, private sector and other information available throughout CARIFORUM/CARICOM. CRITI will help to develop Caribbean institutional capacities by providing timely and efficient information and translation services. We hope that this will facilitate the Caribbean’s engagement in structural transformation and repositioning of its economy.

It is this beneficial integration of the Caribbean region into the world economy through a global repositioning that will lead to sustainable economic growth, regional cohesion and stability and continued improvements in living conditions. Institutions such as these will cement this process and enable the region to face the challenges of the 21st century. Like other regions, as trade expands and the movement of capital and services intensifies, requirements for information and translation services will be needed to help the private sector facilitate trade, commerce and other investments. In this context CRITI is a very important Institution.

I am confident that Governments, other regional bodies and the private sector will make ample use of this valuable Caribbean initiative.

Thank you.