Nassau, The Bahamas – The Bahamas thanked His Excellency Louis Harold Joseph, Ambassador of the Republic of Haiti for the contributions he made in fostering closer ties between both countries.
A Farewell Reception was held Monday, October 4, 2010, at the British Colonial Hilton, where Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration the Hon Brent Symonette acknowledged the accomplishments made over the past eight years by Ambassador Joseph, Dean of the Diplomatic Corp.
Also present were His Excellency Sir Arthur Foulkes, Governor-General and Joan Lady Foulkes; Members of the Diplomatic Corp and Senior Government Officials.
“We in The Bahamas have greatly benefitted from your experience as a career diplomat, as time and time again you have been called upon to pour oil on the troubled waters, stirred up by the challenges of economic and political difficulties in your home country, which have led to an ever-increasing influx of your nationals to our shores,” Mr. Symonette said.
“Yours have not been an easy task, as you have sought to uphold the laws of The Bahamas while endeavouring to find mutually acceptable solutions to this problem.”
The Bahamas and Haiti established diplomatic relations in 1977; the geographic proximity of both countries in conjunction with Haiti being one of the largest and most populous countries in the Caribbean, with persistent development pangs, has played a significant role in determining the nature of relations between both countries.
Mr. Symonette noted that the first few years of Ambassador Joseph’s tenure were particularly fraught with difficulties, as Haiti was beset by political crisis.
“You helped us navigate our way through those turbulent times by providing sound advice about the ever-changing political landscape. You have encouraged us in our commitment to the economic and social development of Haiti by helping to facilitate the fledgling partnership between leading Haitian businessmen and our private sector, evidence in the holding of a trade fair in Nassau in 2005,” Mr. Symonette said.
He added that Bahamians also appreciate Ambassador Joseph’s efforts to educate the Haitian Diaspora about The Bahamas, the public service pertaining to social and health issues. And, on the other hand, his role in promoting Haitian culture through art, music and language.
“Excellency, the vulnerability of small island developing states to natural disasters was all too apparent throughout your tenure here; we witnessed the devastation caused in your homeland as one hurricane after another wreaked havoc and flood waters – the result of torrential rains – caused untold destruction to your land and your people alike,” Mr. Symonette said.
He also mentioned the devastating earthquake, which struck Haiti on January 12, 2010 and left hundreds of thousands dead and homeless.
“Through it all, you remained a stoic picture of dignity and calm, even as you yourself experienced personal loss,” Mr. Symonette said. Ambassador Joseph said he was honoured to have served for eight consecutive years, which has led to the strengthening of friendship and fraternity between both countries.
He said however that there are two unfinished items on the table, which he deemed very important for the continuous strengthening of relations between The Bahamas and Haiti.
One being, the Framework Agreement for Bilateral Cooperation, and the other, the Memorandum of Understanding for Agricultural Goods Exchanges.
“I am certain that the government of the Republic of Haiti will ensure that my successor continues to work very closely with the government of The Bahamas toward the conclusion of these two agreements,” he said.
Ambassador Joseph said although his tenure was sometimes “difficult and bumpy”, he encountered responsible staff at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Immigration Department and other government agencies determined to promote Haitian-Bahamian relations.
He thanked the government and civil society for assistance following the earthquake, and the Haitian community for their cooperation during his tenure.
Ambassador Joseph left the country Tuesday, October 5, 2010 for Washington D. C., where he served before his appointment to The Bahamas. A new Haitian Ambassador to The Bahamas will be announced shortly.