The Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in The Gambia, last Sunday evening, celebrated the country's 199th year of independence.
The celebrations took the form of a colourful reception held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi. Attended by the speaker of the National Assembly of The Gambia - Honourable Elizabeth Renner, senior government officials, members of the diplomatic community, and a cross section of The Gambian community, the occasion was the first of its kind to be celebrated in the country since the establishment of the Venezuelan Embassy in The Gambia.
Addressing the gathering, the Venezuelan Ambassador in The Gambia, Her Excellency Lourdes Pirez Martinez, recalled that 199 years ago, in 1810, the independence treaty of her country was signed, but the country became fully independent from the Kingdom of Spain on the 5th of July 1811.
The African agenda of Venezuela from 2005 to 2009, according to Ambassador Martinez, involves the consolidation of a legal framework of cooperation in the fields of education, health, energy, environment, culture, science and technology, transportation, communications and tourism. This, she said, is south-south cooperation based in which both countries are working closely to strengthen the solidarity and brotherhood to achieve common objectives of eradicating poverty.
Among the many projects Venezuela is seeking to implement, she added, are the establishment of the University of South-South Bank, and the establishment of working groups that will put in action the commitments assumed at the first Africa-South America summit. She noted that those commitments would be renewed in the upcoming second Africa-South America summit scheduled to take place in Venezuela from the 12th to the 16th of September 2009. "The revolutionary and socialist government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela led by President Hugo Chavez guarantees the new integration process of south-south co-operation," she said, maintaining that economic and political freedom is possible when promoting solidarity and sovereignty with a view to having social justice as the main goals.
Ambassador Martinez reaffirmed that the ties between her country and The Gambia, which were established in the framework of the seventh African Union Summit held in The Gambia in 2006, will be strengthened. The bilateral co-operation signed between the two countries in 2007, she said, demonstrated a new kind of integration among south-south countries.
For his part, the minister of Forestry and the Environment, Momodou Kotu Cham, on behalf of the Foreign Affairs minister, said their presence at the occasion was not only to celebrate but also to consolidate the fruitful bilateral relationship existing between the two countries. "Even though the relationship of equality, reciprocity, and mutual respect between our two countries is quite young, dating back to 2006, collaboration at the bilateral and multilateral levels are in full throttle," said Minister Cham, adding that the two countries' bilateral relations particularly in the education sector have facilitated a series of exchanges at both the level of government officials and citizens.
Minister Cham revealed that the two countries are also working closely to strengthen the solidarity and brotherhood needed in other to achieve common objectives. He further revealed that efforts are also being undertaken to mutually benefit from the co-operation in other areas such as health, energy, environment, tourism and culture, science and technology, as well as communications.
The upcoming Africa-South America Summit, Minister Cham indicated, will provide an appropriate forum for the countries of the south to discuss ways of finding common solutions to the current economic and financial crisis, which he said have direct adverse impacts on our fragile economies, and to also chart a way forward in facing the threats posed by globalisation.