Jul 05, 2016 News
With Guyana co-hosting the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), this shows the government’s continued commitment to being involved in the integration process.
This is according to Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guyana, Carl Greenidge, who sat down for an interview with the CARICOM Secretariat ahead of the 37th Heads of Government Meeting from July 4 to July 6 in Georgetown, Guyana.
The Conference of Heads of Government is the supreme organ of the Caribbean Community which provides policy direction. In addition, it is the final authority for the conclusion of Treaties on behalf of the Community and for entering into relationships between the Community and International Organisations and States.
While Guyana is co-hosting with the CARICOM Secretariat, the meeting will be chaired by the Prime Minister of Dominica. This is the second time Guyana will host a Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government outside of the six-monthly rotation schedule of the chairmanship. The first was in 1995 when Dominica, as is the case this year, was unable to host the Meeting.
Guyana’s commitment to CARICOM, Minister Greenidge said, was also manifested in the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR, in which it is the only CARICOM Member State). He noted that instead of promoting Guyana’s needs, priorities and preferences, the opportunity was seized to inform the grouping of CARICOM’s main concerns.
“That is part of the process of deepening our role in CARICOM. To the extent that we can participate in all these meetings and field stronger technical teams, we will be able to represent the Region more effectively,” he said.
Minister Greenidge said that the Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government was being held “at a time when the Region finds itself in some turmoil or on the periphery of significant change.”
He pointed out that the most significant challenge was the crisis in Venezuela, and the Community’s response to it. It was therefore important, he noted, that CARICOM Heads discuss this issue against the background of “what is appropriate, what are the rules, what are the obligations.”
Minister Greenidge also touched briefly on the critical importance of the United Kingdom (UK) referendum on its membership in the European Union (EU) to CARICOM. Mr. Greenidge posited that the outcome threatened a degree of uncertainty, if not destabilisation in the trade and political relationships between the Region and its European partners.
Noting that the EU and its European Development Fund (EDF) was the major source of concessionary grant financing for the Region, Minister Greenidge said what was decided about the future of the relations between the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) grouping and the EU would be very critical.
The ACP, he pointed out, was an important body. It was the only group that had a standing relationship with the North, with whom it negotiated periodically on a range of important issues. Between negotiations, there was a standing platform for addressing the difficulties that arose from implementing what was being negotiated.
Minister Greenidge signalled Guyana’s interest in advancing discussions on the future of the grouping of ACP, based on an offer made by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Chair of the ACP Eminent Persons Group to brief CARICOM Heads on this issue.
“We are going to make sure that the Heads take advantage of that offer, so that when they arrive at a position, it will be as fully informed as possible,” Mr. Greenidge said.
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