Dominica PM: Relationship with T&T remains solid

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Dominica PM: Relationship with T&T remains solid
Dominica Prime Minister Dr Roosevelt Skerrit
Dominica Prime Minister Dr Roosevelt Skerrit

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) – The relationship between T&T and Dominica remains “solid,” according to Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.

In a WhatsApp message to CNC3 Morning Brew host Hema Ramkissoon yesterday, Skerrit said despite a “miscommunication” between the two countries he remains optimistic about future relations.

“The relationship between Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago remains solid. The Trinidad Government and indeed the whole of T&T have been very supportive of our efforts. I do not think that the PM would have been aware of the vote at the OAS prior. This is one of the usual miscommunication occurrences which happens to all of us from time to time,” Skerrit stated.

He said the people of Dominica remain “heartened” over the support T&T has given to Dominica after their island was battered by a Hurricane Maria in September last year.

“We in Dominica are heartened and touched by the continued love, care and concern which T&T continues to demonstrate towards us and this transcends all of society including political parties. Much thanks from us in Dominica,” he said.

On March 23, T&T’s representative, Ambassador Anthony Phillip-Spencer, a retired Brigadier General, voted against Dominica’s bid to waive its OAS contributions for the next two years.

Phillip-Spencer, said despite the “goodwill” expressed by the other delegations, including those from the (Caricom), T&T would not support the waiver, adding that the country would instead consider supporting either the “deferral of payments of contributions by member states and where possible the implementation of a payment plan”.

Still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Maria which battered the island in September 2017, Dominica sought approval to forgo their contributions for 2018 and 2019 as they rebuild.

Following criticisms locally and internationally, T&T’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a release last Thursday stating that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley had requested a report and it was investigating the circumstances which led to a public official’s opposing vote.

The release stated: “The Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs regrets the misrepresentation of the position of T&T offered by a public official of T&T during a meeting of the Permanent Council of the OAS.”

The Ministry added: “T&T’s solidarity with the people of Dominica is without question. The actions, co-operation—be it technical, financial or diplomatic —with Dominica and advocacy over time, most recently in the advent and aftermath of hurricanes, Erika and Maria attest to the strong and abiding relationship between Dominica and T&T’s.” A report on the matter has been requested by Rowley.

In an interview, Moses told Guardian Media that the Ministry’s position was not different to Dominica’s request.

According to a CMC media report yesterday, Skerrit was supposed to speak to Rowley yesterday to discuss relations between the two countries.

“We will speak today,” told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) in a WhatsApp message after he was asked whether or not he had spoken to Rowley or had the intention to meet with him since the OAS issue meeting late last month.

A message and a phone call from the T&T Guardian enquiring about more details from Stuart Young, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister went unanswered up to press time.

A leaked letter from Phillip-Spencer to Rowley, dated March 29, stated that he acted in compliance with written instructions from the Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs, which contradicted the advice provided by the Permanent Mission. Spencer-Phillip stated that it was “inaccurate and false” to state that there was a misrepresentation “offered by a public official of Trinidad and Tobago.”

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