The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, María Ángela Holguín, today presented to the Permanent Representative of Panama to the Organization of American States (OAS), Guillermo Cochez, the Chair of the Summits of the Americas, in the presence of the OAS Secretary General, Jose Miguel Insulza, in a ceremony held at the headquarters of the hemispheric organization in Washington, DC.
During the ceremony, Foreign Minister Holguin said the government of her country "proposed a summit to build upon the individual and collective strengths of our countries: to promote cooperation in areas of mutual interest such as security, the alleviation of poverty and inequality, and the reduction of the risk of disasters, which were the cornerstones of the hemispheric meeting of last April."
"The Sixth Summit of the Americas adopted 47 mandates that constitute a concrete and achievable roadmap toward our objective of achieving higher levels of development and prosperity for the peoples of our countries. The mandates resulted from the exchange of open and frank ideas that characterized the stage of previous negotiations," she said.
The Colombian Foreign Minister stressed that the meeting was characterized by dialogue and sincerity. "Cartagena offered us a stage to openly express our aspirations, our similarities and our differences. The heads of state and government discussed issues that had never appeared on the agendas of regional or subregional meetings. With that, the dialogue in the Americas gained a new dimension," she said.
Likewise, the Foreign Minister of the government of President Juan Manuel Santos highlighted the "broad participation of social actors in the Summit" and praised in particular the support of the OAS and other international and regional organizations that make up the process. In closing she offered the cooperation of the government of her country to Panama in the organization of the 2015 Summit.
For his part, the OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, highlighted the importance for the organization of the Cartagena meeting in which the OAS was given an important number of mandates, among which he noted "in particular the discussion of new alternative scenarios to address the drug problem, that our countries share, which will be compiled in a report that we expect to deliver by the end of this trimester.”
Regarding the Panama Summit, Secretary General Insulza said its success "will depend on whether we are able to face the political obstacles that still exist to the full unity of the hemisphere, to discuss the issues that are present in the hemispheric agenda and demonstrate the political will to translate that agenda beyond the issues that still divide us."
Extending congratulations to the host of the next Summit, the Secretary General anticipated that Panama "will continue to strengthen the process as a natural space at the highest level to discuss policy issues of hemispheric interest, to talk with the utmost frankness about the core issues and make decisions to address the current and future challenges facing the countries of the Americas."
"I am certain that we are going to move ahead with this process, and I reiterate the support of the OAS to Panama in the preparation of the Summit." The head of the hemispheric organization closed by expressing his wish that "the Panama Summit will mark the moment of the full unity of the Americas that we all desire."
In his address, Ambassador Cochez, who received the chair on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama, Rómulo Roux, recognized Colombia as an "ally in the struggle for progress in the hemisphere" and acknowledged in the neighboring country its "commitment shown in the Cartagena Summit for the establishment and achievement of the goals designated as part of this beneficial process."
"We hope to continue in this effort and we will do our best to ensure that this forum is a great success, and therefore continue the fight to combat current and future challenges," he said. The Panamanian diplomat also expressed his hope that the 2015 Summit would include a high presence of social actors and continue the success of the Cartagena meeting.
"We are counting on the strong support from Colombia to make this a successful Summit where all the 35 Member Countries are present and thus overcome inequality and strengthen and defend democracy," he concluded.
At the same meeting, the Permanent Representative of Colombia to the OAS, Andrés González presented the statue of "Inukshuk," which represents the transfer of leadership to the country that will host the next Summit. The Colombian city of Cartagena hosted the Sixth Summit in 2012, and Panama City will host the Seventh Summit in 2015.
Panama was chosen to host the Seventh Summit of the Americas by a resolution of the OAS General Assembly held in June of 2012 in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba.
A gallery of photos of the event is available here.
The video of the event is available here.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.