IN HIS New Year message, First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones reflects on a year when Wales made its mark on the international stage.
Carwyn Jones said: “We can look back on 2014 as the year we took Wales to the world and the world came to Wales. Trade missions to USA, Canada, India and Japan helped yield thousands of new, quality jobs and our successful NATO summit was the largest gathering of world leaders the UK has ever seen.
“The eyes of the world were on Wales as leaders from across the globe, including the first ever serving US President to set foot on Welsh soil, saw exactly what we can do as a nation.
“I was so proud to hear President Obama telling the world that Wales is a country of extraordinary beauty, wonderful people and great hospitality. I wholeheartedly agree.
“In education, we saw Wales pupils record their best ever exam results and our tuition fees regime means thousands more of our students are not being burdened with unmanageable debts.
“We fought tooth and nail to protect our NHS from unfair and unwarranted attacks – and we’ve invested more than ever before to make sure our most cherished institution has the resources it needs to meet the undoubted challenges ahead.
“We’ve created new laws on housing and social care that will make Wales a safer, fairer place. And we’ve taken steps to protect pay for farm workers and delivered for a Living Wage for all NHS workers in Wales.
“Our athletes did us proud in the Commonwealth Games, bringing back a record medal haul for Wales and inspiring a new generation of swimmers, runners, gymnasts and cyclists.
“So what’s in store for 2015? There is no question that we are still facing tough times. Too many people are still struggling to make ends meet, to make the economic recovery count for them. Our mission as a Welsh Government is to deliver for them, to give hope even at a time of huge challenges and shrinking budgets.
“Wales will not be immune to the uncertainty and turmoil that exists around the world, and as we have always done, we will give our support to those who need it most.
“At New Year, there is a temptation to indulge in nostalgia, but we must look forward too. I have never bought into the notion that Wales’ industrial heyday was the best of times. The best of times are ahead of us, I am sure of that.
“Wales has a vibrant future ahead, 2015 is going to be a great year for this nation. Happy New Year to you all.”