OECS Leaders Discuss Relations With Other Governments

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
February 12, 2008 (CUOPM)

Eastern Caribbean leaders have expressed concern about the high cost of external representation for individual Member States and have commissioned the St. Lucia-based Secretariat to undertake a comprehensive review of the costs and locations for current external representation, Member State by Member State, for submission to the Authority at its next meeting, as a basis for consideration of the options for further joint representation for the OECS Member States.

On the Geneva Mission in Switzerland, the OECS Authority welcomed and expressed thanks to the European Commission and to CARIFORUM for the approval of additional financing for the OECS Geneva Mission, within the framework of the CARIFORUM Institutional Strengthening Project (CISP) as a part of the 9th EDF Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme.

Heads of Government at their 46th Meeting in Dominica, accepted the plans by the Secretariat to significantly enhance the staffing of the Technical Mission with this support. It is envisioned that this financial injection will enable the Secretariat, through the Technical Mission to play an even more significant role in assisting the OECS Member States in the ongoing WTO negotiations.

OECS leaders also expressed appreciation for the services of His Excellency Ambassador George “Mario” Bullen who served as Ambassador to Brussels.  The Heads agreed to proceed with the finalisation of the process for the immediate appointment of a successor with a view to bolstering the human resource capacity of the Mission, to adequately represent the interests of the participating states in Brussels.

In response to the deteriorating political and economic situation in Zimbabwe, the Authority mandated the Chairman to liaise with his CARICOM counterpart with a view to having possible CARICOM engagement with the Zimbabwean authorities towards the restoration of political stability and economic growth in that African country.

Heads also expressed deep concern over the developments in Kenya and expressed the hope that the political conflict emerging there would be brought under early control in the interest of the well being of the people of that country.

The Heads of Government during the Dominica meeting discussed the possibilities for the OECS in developing a structured and enhanced relationship with Venezuela on a joint basis in light of the opportunities for further cooperation that were emerging on a multi-lateral basis.

The Authority appointed a Prime Ministerial sub-committee comprising the Prime Ministers of Antigua and Barbuda, Hon. Baldwin Spencer; Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerritt of  Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, to develop a framework for joint OECS cooperation with Venezuela, without prejudice to the beneficial bilateral approaches that were already established.

Heads also agreed that the sub-committee would submit its proposals to the next meeting of the Authority.

In discussing OECS relations with Turkey, OECS leaders agreed to examine the possibility of developing a Memorandum of Understanding with Turkey and welcomed offers by Turkey to develop a cooperation programme including provision of scholarships, as well as a programme that will significantly strengthen the region’s Health and Wellness industry.

Heads also agreed to engage in further discussions with CARICOM in relation to the bid by Turkey and other applicants (including Italy and Austria) to host the upcoming International Exposition and Trade Fair.

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