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Statement by the Honourable Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, Minister of Foreign Affairs on the Occasion Of the Commemoration of the 83rd Birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Admiralty House, Cape Point, 21st April 2009

Apr 23, 2009, 10:54 AM

Your Excellency High Commissioner, Phil Sinkinson

Madam Speaker of the National Assembly,

My Lord Chief Justice,

Honourable Ministers,

Honourable Members of the National Assembly,

Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am delighted to be here this evening to celebrate with you and the entire British Community in The Gambia the 83rd birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. On this auspicious occasion, allow me Your Excellency to convey through you to Her Majesty the Queen, warm greetings and best wishes from His Excellency Professor Alhagie Dr. Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh and the People of The Gambia, wishing her a happy birthday, continuous well being and prosperity.

I will begin by saying that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the British High Commission have always had and continues to have a close relationship. In representing your beloved country, my staff and I are marveled at your untiring efforts at consolidating the mutual bonds of friendship and cooperation which happily exist between our two countries and which dates back many years. The Republic of the Gambia and the United Kingdom have, over time, established a solid bilateral relationship through the adoption of consistent foreign policies under the aegis of which various cooperation projects and substantial exchanges between our government officials as well as our dear citizens have taken place. Such frequent exchanges have not only brought our two countries closer, but have also enhanced and enriched our appreciation of each others traditions and values. The role played by your predecessors and your good person in this cannot be over-emphasized, and our sincere appreciation goes out to you and the able staff of the British High Commission.

Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

The strong bilateral ties which characterize the relationship between The Gambia and the United Kingdom is one that I am profoundly proud of given its basis on equality, reciprocity, and mutual respect. For the fact that over 50,000 British tourists visit The Gambia each year is ample testimony of the genuine warmth and closeness which exist between out two Peoples. This has gone a long way in boosting our pride and solidifying our confidence in calling our beloved country a tourist paradise. As a result of the successes registered in the Tourism sector therefore, the Government of The Gambia has seen it apt to slightly diversify to invite investors in areas such as industry and information technology for whom tourism might very well serve as a way to discover and invest in The Gambia.

The Gambia remains thankful for the cooperation and assistance rendered by the United Kingdom. In the security sector, Government remains appreciative for the remarkable assistance in the form of capacity building support given to our military personnel to undergo training in the prestigious British Military Academies. The training in peacekeeping support skills provided by the Royal Gibraltar Regiment is well appreciated and valued given The Gambia's engagements in United Nations and African Union peacekeeping activities. Furthermore, in the development of the education sector, our gratitude goes to the D.F.I.D for the scholarships awarded through the BESPOR Project and the Legal Capacity Building Project with the latest being The Gambia Civil Service Reform and Capacity Assessment which was funded by the D.F.I.D.

I also use this opportunity to express our appreciation for the funded projects through the British High Commission in partnership with the Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) particularly in the Health, Education, and Agriculture Sectors. The support of nongovernmental organizations such as Concern Universal, especially in the funding of rural based projects require our special thanks and appreciation especially given its thrust to improve the livelihoods of Gambian farmers.

Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

As might have been indicated in previous such gatherings, assessment made by the United Nations agencies has indicated that The Gambia will be among the very few African Countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on target if current trends of development persist. The country's development achievements have been made possible through such robust and genuine partnerships that we are confident will continue to grow from strength to strength. I therefore call for the continuance of height level cooperation with the United Kingdom, whose support and assistance will in no small measure contribute towards our achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and consequently Vision


Unquestionably therefore, our presence here today to celebrate the 83 birthday of Her Majesty the Queen is also testimony of our shared commitment to further reinforce bilateral and fraternal relations between our two peoples and countries.

In concussion therefore, Your Excellency, I will ask all present to join me in raising our glasses in a toast to the continued good health and prosperity of Her Majesty the Queen. I wish each and every one of you a good evening.

This statement was read by Hon. Lamin Bojang, Minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure on behalf of Dr Omar Touray, Minister of Foreign Affairs.