EC head: Dialogue can help solve Guyana's problems
... urges country to remain active in trade negotiations

Guyana Chronicle
September 25, 2003

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After five years in Guyana and Suriname, the Head of the Delegation of the European Commission to Guyana, Suriname, Aruba, Trinidad and Tobago and the Netherlands Antilles, Mr. Vincent DeVisscher, has left Guyana to take up a post in the EC headquarters in Belgium.

The outgoing Head of Delegation, who was instrumental in enlarging the Delegation's responsibilities, says that it has been hard work, but after spending five years in the region he came to understand "the Caribbean way of doing things."

One of the most significant events of Mr. DeVisscher's tenure in Guyana was the European Commission's support for the electoral process in Guyana.

But there were also some frustrating times. In particular, he cited "the slow pace of the dialogue process and the recent security problems in Guyana."

This caused virtually everything to be put on hold and several projects were delayed. However, he noted that there has been some improvement within the last few months and hopes that this trend will continue. He expressed the view that only Guyanese can solve the problems of Guyana "and this through dialogue." He also said that Guyana has to realize that the world will not wait for it to advance. There are trade challenges and Guyana needs to remain active in trade negotiations. To do this, he says, the country needs to maintain a network of friends and recognize that the future of the region is further integration and better trade relations.

While in Guyana, the task of enlarging the Delegation to cover the 5 countries it does today, has been a hard task. Today it is better staffed than it was when the process started. "I am pleased that it has all come together, very pleased and proud to leave a Delegation standing on its own feet."

Mr. DeVisscher said that he was impressed with the hospitality of the Guyanese people; he was impressed with the openness that exists between the Government and the private sector, and the fact that he never felt unsafe or insecure. Mr. DeVisscher said that his only regret was that he was never able to visit the interior of Guyana, since it seemed as if the Delegation was always reorganizing. He noted that he could never really leave Guyana and felt as if part of his soul would always remain here.

After 27 years in service outside of his home country, Mr. DeVisscher returns to Brussels, where he is to take up a position in the Commission's headquarters. (Ajay Baksh)