COMMUNIQUE – 20th Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR)

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Heads of Delegation at the 20th Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) (photo via BGIS)

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COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE

TWENTIETH MEETING OF THE COUNCIL FOR FOREIGN AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS (COFCOR),

BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS:   18-19 MAY 2017

 

The Twentieth Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) took place in Bridgetown, Barbados on 18-19 May 2017, under the Chairmanship of Senator the Honourable Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados.

The Ministers also acknowledged that Brexit would present both challenges and opportunities for the Community and gave consideration to a range of strategies for engagement with the UK and the EU.
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Chair of COFCOR, Hon. Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados

The COFCOR was attended by the Honourable H. Charles Fernandez, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade  and Immigration of Antigua and Barbuda; Honourable Wilfred Peter Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belize; Senator the Honourable Francine Baron, Minister of Foreign Affairs and CARICOM Affairs of  Dominica; Honourable Nicholas Steele, Minister of Health, Social Security and  International Business of Grenada; Honourable Carl Greenidge, Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guyana; Senator the Honourable Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica; Honourable Mark Brantley, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation of  St. Kitts and Nevis; Honourable  Sir Louis Straker, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Commerce of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Her Excellency Yldiz D. Pollack-Beighle, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Suriname; Senator the Honourable Dennis Moses, Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago.

The COFCOR received an update on the issues of strategic importance to the Community before the Organisation of American States (OAS). Ministers reiterated their commitment to the work of the hemispheric body and looked forward to discussions to be held at the upcoming Forty-Seventh Regular Session of the OAS General Assembly under the theme “Strengthening Dialogue and Concentration for Prosperity” in Cancun, Mexico, on 19-21 June 2017.

Mrs.  Sharon Brennen-Haylock, Director-General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, represented The Bahamas; His Excellency Peterson Benjamin Noel, Ambassador to CARICOM represented Haiti; Her Excellency Elma Gene Isaac, Ambassador to CARICOM and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) represented Saint Lucia. The OECS Secretariat was represented by His Excellency. Anthony Severin, Head of International Relations.

 

Opening Ceremony

Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque; the Honourable Sir Louis Straker, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade, Commerce and Regional Integration of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, immediate past Chair of the COFCOR; and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados and Chair of the COFCOR, Senator the Honourable Maxine McClean, addressed the Opening Ceremony.

The Secretary-General posited that the Council was meeting at a time when a number of developments are taking place against the backdrop of an international order which is in a period of greater flux than usual. He referred to a number of developments which had implications for the Community, including Brexit, the uncertainty concerning the policy of the new United States (US) Administration towards the Caribbean and the coming negotiations on the Post Cotonou arrangements between the ACP Group of States and the European Union (EU). (more…)

Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) Statement on the Situation in Venezuela

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Foreign Ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) gathered in Bridgetown, Barbados, at the Twentieth Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) deliberated on the changes taking place in the international environment as well as in their wider regional environment and on their implications for the coordinated foreign policy positioning of their countries.

They reiterated the importance they accord to maintenance of the rule of law, respect for human rights and democracy, as well as to the fundamental principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of states. These values and principles were viewed as being of paramount importance when addressing international situations of concern.

The Foreign Ministers were united in their view that respect for these values and principles would prove valuable and pertinent in addressing concerns over the situation in Venezuela. Persuaded that the solution to the present situation had to be sought internally, supported by a mediated process, they were of the view that the deeply entrenched positions needed to be softened so that trust could be built on both sides in order to facilitate dialogue so that the people of Venezuela could peacefully overcome their crisis.

Foreign Ministers decried the violence taking place and deplored the resulting loss of life and property.

 

Bridgetown, Barbados

19 May 2017

Region’s Foreign Ministers into Day Two of Barbados meeting on Foreign and Community relations matters

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Assistant Secretary-General, Foreign and Community Relations, CARICOM Secretariat, Ambassador Colin Granderson in discussion with Chile’s Ambassador to CARICOM HE Claudio Rojas Rachel and his wife at Thursday’s Opening of the Twentieth Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Barbados. (Photo via BGIS)

The Region’s Foreign Ministers are deliberating over wide-ranging issues including a new CARICOM Diplomacy for a Changing International Environment, Post-Cotonou Partnership and the Future of the ACP, and the way forward on Trade and Development Cooperation with a Post-Brexit United Kingdom.

The meeting closes Friday with a media conference scheduled for 5:00 p.m..

The COFCOR meets formally once each year and is responsible for determining relations between the Community, international organisations and Third States.

Incoming COFCOR Chair Stresses Unity

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Chair of COFCOR, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, Senator Maxine McClean.

BGIS, Bridgetown: - The present and future global environment demand that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) engages in a process of “evaluation, revision and consolidation”.

This advice was given by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, while addressing the opening ceremony of the Twentieth Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, this morning.

Senator McClean, the incoming Chairman of COFCOR, told her fellow Foreign Affairs Ministers: “It is imperative that we deepen and strengthen community engagement and, as a cohesive body, leverage our voices as one to derive maximum benefit for the region”.

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Outgoing COFCOR Chairman, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade, Commerce and Regional Integration of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sir Louis Straker addressing the opening ceremony of the 20th COFCOR Meeting.

She stressed that recent political developments in the hemisphere and Europe involving long-term CARICOM partners would likely have “a profound impact” on the region.

“The imminent exit of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) will generate domestic and foreign policy changes in the United Kingdom. These, in turn, will affect the countries of CARICOM, given the deep and long-standing historical relationship.

“The extent of the impacts on economic, trade, and political relations, as well as development assistance between the UK and CARICOM, will be determined by our preparedness and our coordinated efforts to shape our future relationship with the United Kingdom,” she pointed out.

She also noted that to date, the United States (US) administration had not formulated a policy for engaging the region; however, current US policies were “already having an impact on our sustainable development priorities and aspirations”. (more…)

Regional integration provides resilience – CARICOM SG

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(front row, from left) Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, Jamaica; Hon. Senator Francine Baron, Dominica; Hon Maxine McClean, Barbados (Chair of COFCOR); Hon. Yldiz D Pollack-Beighle, Suriname; HE Elma Gene Isaac representing Saint Lucia; Ms. Sharon Haylock representing The Bahamas Back row, from left) Hon. H. Charles Fernandez, Antigua and Barbuda; Hon. Carl Greenidge, Guyana; Hon. Nicolas Skeete, Grenada; Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, CARICOM Secretary-General; Hon. Mark Brantley, St. Kitts and Nevis; HE Peterson Noel representing Haiti; Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Belize; Hon. Dennis Moses, Trinidad and Tobago; Hon. Sir Louis Straker, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

The strength of the regional integration movement provides a solid platform upon which the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) can build its resilience within a global environment constantly in flux.

That sentiment was expressed by the Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, earlier today, Thursday 18 May 2017, when he addressed the opening of the 20th Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR). Barbados is host of the two-day meeting, being chaired by Hon. Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados.

Ambassador LaRocque said COFCOR was meeting at a time when international order was in greater flux than usual. As the balance of power shifted and voids became evident in international leadership on matters of great global import, such as climate change, new and assertive actors were beginning to fill those voids, he added.

(Remarks – CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque:   COFCOR_SG’s Opening Remarks

(Remarks – Chair of COFCOR, Hon. Maxine McClean of Barbados:  COFCOR_Statement by the Chair

“Globalization and multilateralism, characterised by open borders, the institutionalization of economic and political cooperation, and shared sovereignty are unravelling, increasingly challenged by the rise of populism, protectionism and isolationism,” the CARICOM Secretary-General told the gathering of the Region’s Foreign Ministers (more…)