As Guyana joins the rest of the world in celebration of Europe Day 2020, being observed today, the European Union Ambassador to Guyana, Fernando Ponz Canto, reaffirmed his country’s support to the Caribbean countries that are battling with the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).
Europe Day, held on May 9 annually, celebrates peace and unity in Europe. The date marks the anniversary of the historic ‘Schuman declaration’. At a speech in Paris in 1950, Robert Schuman, the then French Foreign Minister, set out his idea for a new form of political cooperation in Europe, which would make war between Europe’s nations unthinkable.
His vision was to create a European institution that would pool and manage coal and steel production. A treaty creating such a body was signed just under a year later. Schuman’s proposal is considered to be the beginning of what is now the European Union.
Guyana and the EU have signed two important contracts, one of which is for a project that would provide protective services for people at risk of suicide, and the other is to help protect the rights of Indigenous communities.
The EU has also provided $2.4B to Guyana to improve its sea and river defence, and $5.5B to help the local sugar industry improve its competitiveness and/or diversify its operations.
Also launched, a seaport cooperation programme would train and equip inter-agency units to identify, search, and interdict all forms of illicit maritime trafficking.
Ambassador Canto has said the EU is about peace, unity, and democracy, factors that have brought Europe to its longest period of peace.
“This is why, in these very trying times, it is so important to reflect and celebrate Europe Day. Europe Day is held on 9 May every year. The date marks the anniversary of historical Schuman,” Canto posited.
Given that unprecedented times currently prevail, Canto explained, this year’s celebration will be focused on navigating these trying times.
“The EU, like the rest of the affected countries, is focused on navigating these stubborn times, but also to help each other to get through; and we will emerge together stronger and better,” Canto stated.
The ambassador also lauded the bloc’s historic ties with the EU member states. “We value, more than ever, partnership with Guyana, with Suriname, along with the other six countries and territories; and we will continue to work together, and to support their development as we move into the future,” he said.
He added, “We are in this together, and together we will get out.” His country made a contribution of Nine million Euros to help contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Caribbean.
“In addition to our development cooperation programme, the EU is now providing a grant of 9 million euros to have the Caribbean fight this coronavirus outbreak. It will be implemented by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), and is expected to improve detection, surveillance, prevention, control, and response to COVID.”
This financial boost will also pave the way for detection, treatment and surveillance, among other things, in order to eradicate COVID-19. (Shemar Alleyne)