|Prime Minister Freundel Stuart at the lectern as he addressed the 30th anniversary luncheon and awards ceremony of the Regional Security System yesterday at Casa Grande Hotel in St.Philip. (G.Brewster/BGIS)??|
The Government of Barbados has pledged to do all in its power to continue to support the Regional Security System (RSS).
This was made clear by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, as he addressed a 30th Anniversary Luncheon and Awards Ceremony of the RSS at Casa Grande Hotel yesterday.
The Prime Minister told a gathering that included former Commissioner of Police and current RSS Coordinator, Grantley Watson; retired Chief of Staff of the Barbados Defence Force, Brigadier Rudyard Lewis; and Chief of Staff of the Barbados Defence Force Colonel Alvin Quintyne, and members of the diplomatic corps, that continual support for the Regional Security System was non- negotiable.
In fact, the Prime Minister committed future administrations to ensuring that security in the region would remain on the front burner.
"As far as we are concerned, this System is an indispensable prerequisite to the continued tranquility of this region. And therefore, whatever the Barbados Government has to do to ensure that it is properly resourced and properly fuelled – the government will do as long as I have anything to do with it. And I believe that I can speak here for governments coming after. I don’t think that we will ever go back to a stage where we allow ourselves to believe that we do not need a system like the Regional Security System."
Recalling the coup that occurred in Grenada in 1983, when Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and several members of his administration were killed, Mr. Stuart noted that the threats to regional security have not lessened over the years. "If anything," he stressed, "they have grown".
"The existence of the Regional Security System is not to be explained by just a pipe dream. Security issues are real for us here in the Caribbean… If we did not want to be mature up to then [the Grenada coup] …We were forced into maturity by those events and we came face to face with a reality that we needed to have in place the kind of mechanisms, military and otherwise that would allow us to handle such challenges. And, I recall with undiminished clarity, the leadership provided by Brigadier retired Rudyard Lewis on that momentous occasion and during those momentous events," he added.
The Prime Minister explained that as a result of the events in Grenada, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 1996, and the accompanying legislation gave birth to the RSS as it exists today.
Mr. Stuart sounded a note of caution for persons to realise that the Caribbean was not divorced from the problems of the world. "Located where we are, we cannot continue to believe that we are insulated or isolated from the threats that bedevil other parts of the world. We are not even allowed to believe that in the month of December 2012, on the 19th day, when we should all be talking about peace on earth and goodwill towards all men."
Mr Stuart commended the Regional Security System for being "the unique and high quality organisation" that it is, and singled out Brigadier Lewis for providing "massive and substantial, wise and insightful contribution" to the RSS, as well as "hindsight, insight and the foresight to guide the development of the organisation during its formative years." He also thanked present coordinator and retired Commissioner of Police, Grantley Watson, for "the maturity and the balance of mind that he has brought to the discharge of his responsibilities".
Mr. Stuart described the decision to create the RSS by the four signatory nations in 1982 as "a leap of faith". He noted: "They walked by faith. Thirty years later as we look back on the achievements of the RSS we are in the position to say that we walked by sight, because none but the churlish would want to deny that the Regional Security System over the last 30 years has justified its existence and certainly it has justified the faith which the original signatories placed in it."
Turning attention to the global situation, Mr. Stuart emphasised that in reality, there was very little peace on earth, or, for that matter, "goodwill towards men". However, he urged persons to have faith in the message of Christmas.
"We have to continue to fight for peace on earth and to fight for the establishment of goodwill, or the institutionalisation of goodwill towards all men. And, one of the paradoxes of the human existence is that peace has to be fought for. You don’t get peace…by prayer. You get peace by fighting for it and that is one of the paradoxes of human existence. So, even when we pray for peace on earth and goodwill towards men we have to face sternly the reality that military hardware plays a very important role in the achievement of peace," he observed. ??
RSS member states are: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts, Grenada and Barbados. The RSS is mandated to prepare contingency plans and assist Caribbean states, on request, in national emergencies, prevention of smuggling, search and rescue, immigration control, fishery protection, customs and excise control, maritime policing duties, protection of off-shore installations, pollution control, national and other disasters and threats to national security.
Please click here for a copy of the PM Stuart’s address.