Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Ambassador Valeriano Diaz, leaves Barbados on Saturday after four and a half years.
During his tenure approximately 323 million euros in grant aid were disbursed amongst the ten countries and territories to which Ambassador Diaz is accredited (Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands and Montserrat).
The EU cooperation is extensive. It includes the construction of a new hospital in St. Lucia which is nearing completion, the finalisation of the Dominica Air Access programme with extension of the runway and installation of night landing equipment at the Melville Hall airport, the development of the 114 miles long Waitukubuli National Trail in Dominica, expansion of the language laboratory at the Barbados Community College, support to the Offshore Business Sector in Barbados, support to the NGO community in the Eastern Caribbean, construction of a ferry Dock in Antigua and Barbuda to serve also as an emergency evacuation point from Montserrat and upgrading and construction of tourism sites in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The EU diplomat also spearheaded initiatives to assist Grenada as well as Antigua and Barbuda as a result of difficulties stemming from the world economic crisis by triggering vulnerability assistance packages set aside by the EU.
The EU does not only provide aid at the national level but the Barbados Delegation also manages a considerable number of regional programmes with organisations such as UNDP (disaster reduction), Caribbean Development Bank (CSME), Caribbean Export, the Caribbean Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality and the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre (fiscal reform).
Ambassador Diaz also oversaw the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement with CARIFORUM. Culturally the Delegation which he led established a European Film Festival in Barbados in collaboration with the University of the West Indies and Member State missions.
Ambassador Diaz said: “It was a pleasure serving in this region with its stable and long-time democracies and rich cultures. I hope that despite their differences, the countries of this wonderful region will give priority to their common interests and further progress towards regional integration, at their own pace. I am convinced that the EU, as a trusted partner, will always be at their side.’
Within the last two weeks Ambassador Diaz made farewell calls on the Heads of States, Prime Ministers and other counterparts reviewing political, economic and bi-lateral co-operation issues.