Organization of American States ..............................News Release


June 26, 1998

Guyana's ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), speaking to graduates of the Inter-American Defense College in Washington today, restated the need for a regional integration fund to help especially the smaller economies of the hemisphere to adjust and participate in the expected Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

In his challenge to the 37th graduating class of the Washington-based college, Dr. Odeen Ishmael, who was the keynote speaker, explained: "Financial assistance for integration into the FTAA is vitally necessary for the smaller economies of the [Western] Hemisphere." The FTAA is expected to be formally set up by the year 2005.

The Guyanese diplomat also gave the military graduates a survey of the political situation around the world and in the hemisphere, stressing the need to be vigilant to safeguard political democracy.

OAS Assistant Secretary General Ambassador Christopher R. Thomas stated that the graduation marked a transition for the graduates to now apply the theoretical knowledge they had acquired. The themes of the courses of study, Ambassador Thomas said, "are among those which deeply concern this organization and are areas with whose definition and development the OAS has been specifically tasked by its member countries."

Diplomas were handed to the students by Major General John C. Thompson (US Army), Director of the IADC and Chairman of the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB). He praised the graduates' knowledge, enthusiasm, idealism, sincerity and passion. "You are truly exemplary people. You reflect our very best," he told them.

The Inter-American Defense College started in October 1962 as the academic arm of the Inter-American Defense Board. The Board is the world's oldest multilateral military organization and was set up in 1942 to study and recommend measure's for the hemisphere's defense.

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