Ten years after being set up and with a number of years of dormancy, the Franco-Saint Lucia Security Commission is moving forward to implement and formalise documents of its cooperation.
The commission is holding its 5th Joint Security Meeting here today (May 20) in that regard.
The Franco-St. Lucia Security Commission came about on March 5, 2004 in order to organise cooperation between the two neighbouring islands, and providing a link with the Embassy of France in Castries, and the Prefecture of the Region Martinique in Fort de France with an objective of organising and addressing issues relating to maritime security, extraditions, human and drug trafficking, natural disasters risk management, and to promote judicial cooperation between the two islands.
While admitting that documents may not be fully formalised during today’s proceedings, French Ambassador Eric de La Moussaye said he is pleased that after a period of dormancy, the commission is finally gaining momentum. He expressed confidence that things will advance in a timelier manner this time around.
de La Moussaye commented that a main reason for the dormancy was a lack of followups on matters discussed and agreed to at previous meetings.
He said however, action will be taken soon after today’s meeting, since the commission plans to immediately assess matters discussed and move towards achieving goals.
“We will check the points that we agree on and we will check the points that we can work together. We will have workshops on each point and then a little team of technocrats will work together in Martinique, France and the Embassy,” he said.
The ambassador informed that next year, the commission will meet in Fort de France, Martinique to assess whether the goals set from today’s meeting were achieved. This approach was absent in the past, he said.
“The other committee didn’t do that. They met like this [today] and [then] said bye bye. So we want to change that. We want to progress. We have talked for lots of years on these topics but this is the first time that we are agreeing – our two governments- to go further and to [prepare] for signing these texts which are important for the security of our two islands. That is most important. We want to increase the security between us in our common interests,” he said.
The ambassador said that coming to terms with a final agreement is not easy since St. Lucian law and French law are different. “So we have technical problems, not political problems.”
The ambassador said he is hoping that by the end of the week, the commission will be satisfied with the level of discussions held.
He said that while St. Lucia and Martinique have been allies for years, the commission is a way of formalising the cooperation to have both sides “much more comfortable.”
Meanwhile, National Security Minister Victor La Corbiniere echoed the ambassador’s sentiments by calling today’s meeting a long delayed one.
La Corbiniere in presenting remarks, advised that while both countries have held talks for over 10 years on various traditional security matters, clear consideration should be given to economic and cybercrimes, which are some of the more modern forms of criminality.
It is hoped that with an increase in tourist traffic in both Martinique and St. Lucia, ensuring security is a way of preserving each nation’s appeal.
The commission has facilitated and organised exchanges of services, staff training, maritime cooperation, organisation of coordinated medical evacuations, and assistance in cases of natural disasters such as Hurricane Thomas in 2010 and the tropical storm of last Christmas.