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).

MARIJUANA CONVERSATION CONTINUES IN CARICOM – National Consultation being held in Antigua and Barbuda

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The formal regional conversation on marijuana in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) continues today Monday 22 May 2017 with a national consultation in Antigua and Barbuda.

The Regional Marijuana Commission is today hosting three Focus Group discussions and a Town Hall meeting.  The discussions are engaging the Youth; Faith-based Organisations and Non-governmental Organisations; and Special Interest Groups.  The Town hall Meeting from 6:00 p.m, is open to the public and will be broadcast live in Antigua/Barbuda on Radio and TV and streamed live on the ABS and CARICOM Face Book pages.

The Commission, headed by Prof. Rose-Marie-Bell Antoine of Trinidad and Tobago , is composed of practitioners with  expert knowledge in a  variety of disciplines  including medicine and allied health, health research, law enforcement, ethics, education, anthropology, sociology and culture.

The consultation in Antigua and Barbuda is one in a series of region-wide engagements being undertaken by the Commission.

See more on:  Regional Marijuana Commission

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

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”.

Small states have critical role to play in global fight against terrorism -President Granger

President David Granger, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Carl Greenidge and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Suriname, Ms. Yildiz D. Pollack-Beighle in conversation at the Arab-Islamic-American Summit, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Photo via Ministry of the Presidency)
President David Granger, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Carl Greenidge and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Suriname, Ms. Yildiz D. Pollack-Beighle in conversation at the Arab-Islamic-American Summit, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Photo via Ministry of the Presidency)
As the current Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), President Granger said the regional body is a willing ally in the ‘just’ war against terrorism and extremism.
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Ministry of the Presidency, May 21, 2017) – President David Granger, (on Sunday), said that global partnerships to combat terrorism cannot exclude small states, since conflict between and within such states, or between a small state and other states, can endanger the peace of all countries.

The Head of State, who was at the time speaking on the side lines of the Arab-Islamic-American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, said that the majority of the states of the world can be described as small states and, as such, the world cannot be made secure without addressing the threats faced by those countries. “The international community, therefore, must be encouraged to work towards the establishment of a global security system, which would provide protection for small and large states,” the President said.


The Guyanese Leader added that small states like Guyana, lacking the means to combat transnational threats, such as terrorism, must be able to rely on the protection afforded through international cooperation, multilateralism and international law. Small states, he noted, lack the capability to effectively combat transnational security threats on their own and also face environmental threats, such as the adverse effects of climate change and natural disasters, which can have implications for their security.