(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – On May 06, 2017 OECS Ministers of Foreign Affairs concluded yet another successful meeting of the Council of Ministers – Foreign affairs.
The meeting was held in Nassau, the Bahamas under the Chairmanship of Senator the Hon. Francine Baron, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Commonwealth of Dominica, and involved ministerial representation by all members of the Council save represented at the level of Ambassador/Commissioner.
The meeting addressed a number of issues of critical concern to OECS Member States including (inter alia) threats to multilateralism posed by developments at the global and hemispheric levels; an examination of the implications for the OECS of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union; key developments in the European theatre including the preparations for negotiations between the grouping of African Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP) and the European Union (EU) on relations post Cotonou, as well as the blacklisting of OECS Member States (and others) by the EU as “non-cooperative tax jurisdictions”; the progressive enlargement of the OECS; and joint overseas representation in specified jurisdictions.
In welcoming participants to the meeting, the Commission’s Head of International Relations, Ambassador Anthony Severin urged the Council to remain engaged on the key issues of international import, and to strengthen the culture of engagement that existed within the COMFA at all levels. He also encouraged the Council to continue to build, to define and to articulate the OECS perspective of the world and of its place within it. He posited the view that this OECS perspective would serve to guide and better equip the Organisation and its Member States to protect and to promote the interests and collective welfare of the citizens of the OECS region.
Representing the Outgoing Chair, Antigua and Barbuda, Ambassador Anthony Liverpool referred to the severe difficulties experienced by the region through the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 and pointed to the remarkable example of resilience presented by Member States to the rest of the world in response to those crises. He called for a unified and integrated approach to the challenges faced by Member States, whether in respect of the negative impacts of climate change, or direct negative impacts on the financial services sectors through financial de-risking, loss of correspondent banking services, or blacklisting as non-cooperative tax jurisdictions.
The incoming Chair of the Council, Senator the Honourable Francine Baron pointed to the unprecedented challenges facing the region in many spheres, and the necessity for strengthening regional institutions, and developing the processes and protocols to adequately respond to emerging crises. She urged that resilience building be placed at the heart of policy making in the region and pointed to the necessity for re-orienting the region’s citizens to the imperative of mitigation and resilience as two sides of an integrated approach to climate change.
The Fourth Meeting of the Council of Ministers – Foreign Affairs reaffirmed its commitment to advancing the purposes, functions and objectives of the OECS Economic Union, and undertook to remain continually engaged toward that end.