Presentation of Credentials

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Presentation of Credentials (Belgium,
Senegal, Indonesia, Tonga, Democratic
Republic of the Congo, Principality of Andorra)

Rideau Hall, Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It gives me great pleasure to see us gather today in a spirit of friendship and solidarity.

Like you, I see diplomacy as a powerful tool for bringing peoples closer together. An instrument that is especially important in this day and age, when all countries must work together to find common solutions to the challenges facing us all.

That is why I feel we must take every opportunity to strengthen the ties that unite us. Today is one such opportunity.

We have with us today the ambassadors of two African countries to which I made State visits last month. So it is now my turn, your Excellencies, to wish you a warm welcome.

Indeed, I recently returned from the African continent – a trip that took me from Senegal to Cape Verde, passing through the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.

Ambassador Wone, please know that I was extremely touched by the warm welcome given me by the Senegalese people in April.

As I told President Abdoulaye Wade, the people of Senegal have a lot of heart, and I was pleased to recognize each step forward, each accomplishment and so many citizen initiatives during passionate meetings with cultural, academic and business communities in Dakar and on the Island of Gorée.

This visit, which coincided with the 50th anniversary of Senegal’s independence, gave me the opportunity to underscore the deep ties of friendship, and the productive cooperation and collaborations between our two countries. 

We share such fundamental values as the rule of law, as well as respect for human rights, democracy and freedom of expression, which both our countries continually promote within multilateral bodies like the United Nations and the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.

In fact, Senegal is a model of democracy in the region, ensuring respect for its institutions and the rule of law.

You have called for peace and security throughout the continent. To back up your words, you have sent troops to Sudan and shown an active commitment to the search for a solution to this crisis. Not to mention your important contribution to the peacekeeping missions in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Welcome, Excellency.

Ambassador Kilufya, I also wanted to pay tribute, when I was in Kinshasa and Goma, to your people’s determination to extricate themselves from a history of torment and from years of conflict.

I was honoured to speak at the People's Palace in the presence of the President of the Republic, members of the National Assembly and Senate and so many representatives of civil society and the diplomatic corps, to recognize the efforts made by the dynamic forces in your country to restore security and better living conditions for all, and respect for human dignity and for the physical and psychological integrity of Congolese women.

Consequently, Canada plans to collaborate with you in various priority sectors, and is focusing its activities on humanitarian aid, targeted in particular at women and children, including many in the eastern part of the country, where militia are still committing the worst atrocities.

Canada will continue to focus on the values it shares with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and that our countries uphold, notably within the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, to promote governance and consolidation of democratic institutions.

The stability of the Great Lakes region is important to us, as it is essential to the development of the African continent.

Welcome, Excellency.

Ambassador van der Pluijm, Belgium is itself very present in Africa due to its historic links with this continent – in particular through its participation in the Group of Friends of the Great Lakes Region, to which Canada also belongs. 

We know that your country attaches great importance to multilateralism and contributes mightily to the efforts of the international community through its active participation in peacekeeping and peace support operations throughout the world and its humanitarian aid programs, particularly in high-risk countries.

I would also like to thank you on a personal level for Belgium’s commitment in Haiti, as evidenced not only by the emergency relief your country provided in the immediate aftermath of the January earthquake, but also by your long-term rebuilding efforts.

Clearly, Canada and Belgium are united by a friendship founded on common values. 

Values that we defended together during the First and Second World Wars and that we continue to defend as part of NATO, particularly within the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Values to which we are also firmly committed within the United Nations and the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.

Belgium is a special partner of Canada’s in Europe, to be sure, and we are delighted at the prospect of working closely with your country during its presidency of the European Union during the second half of 2010.

Welcome, Excellency.

Ambassador de Fonsdeviela, the Principality of Andorra occupies a unique place in Europe.

It is one of the smallest countries in the world and the only sovereign state to have adopted Catalan as the official language.

Canada established diplomatic ties with the Principality of Andorra in 1995, and is very hopeful to deepen them during your posting.

Our countries have forged a partnership based on common values and maintain a productive dialogue within major international bodies.

For example, Canada and the Principality of Andorra cooperate within several international organizations, including the United Nations and the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.

The Principality of Andorra's commitment on the international scene is also reflected in its participation in the reconstruction efforts in Haiti.

Indeed, our paths crossed on March 31, at the New York conference on reconstruction in Haiti.

The Andorran population and government have shown their solidarity with and generosity toward the Haitian people, and I’d like to sincerely thank them for this.

Welcome, Excellency.

High Commissioner Taumoepeau-Tupou, Canada would also like to strengthen its cordial relationship with the Kingdom of Tonga, an excellent partner in the Pacific region.

We are cooperating within regional and multilateral meetings following the Pacific Islands Forum, and within the United Nations and the Commonwealth.

We are delighted with Tonga’s desire for democratization and offer our best wishes for success in the run-up to the November elections, which will give the people a larger number of representatives. In fact, with the help of the Canada Fund, our country helped carry out a voter education project.

This fund also allows us to support community development and income support projects in Tonga, including relief efforts in the wake of last year’s devastating tsunami, efforts aimed in part at mitigating the damages on the island of Niuatoputapu. 

Ambassador Moehario, Canadians are anything but indifferent to the tragedies that befall our world, and they were deeply shaken by the tsunami of 2004.

They mobilized to participate in the relief and reconstruction efforts in Indonesia, and particularly in Aceh Province – by far the hardest hit – as well as in the other countries that bore the brunt of this catastrophe.    

The ties between our populations continue to deepen, of course. A case in point: the exchanges taking place between McGill University and the Islamic University of Indonesia.

Canada and Indonesia have enjoyed solid, friendly relations since the 1950s. This relationship has grown steadily closer thanks to our countries’ cooperation in achieving such common objectives as poverty reduction, good governance and an end to international terrorism, to name but a few.

We hope to strengthen this productive collaboration, specifically in the areas of development and cooperation, trade and investment, political relations and our joint work in multilateral organizations, like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the G-20, which Canada will be hosting next month.

Please know that we are pleased with Indonesia’s pursuit of democratic development and the leadership your country is showing in promoting the rule of law and respect for rights and freedoms throughout Southeast Asia.

Excellencies, I am convinced that your postings will breathe new life into the business, diplomatic, cultural and social relations between our countries.

Rest assured that Canada intends to work with all of you, in a spirit of sharing and openness, to create partnerships that promise prosperity and development for our respective populations and for the entire world.

Thank you.