As the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and United Nations (UN) meet in New York, USA, to discuss how the international body can better support the Region’s strategic goals, UN Secretary-General, His Excellency António Guterres, has lauded CARICOM’s leadership on many pressing global issues.
Speaking at the opening of the 9th Biennial CARICOM-UN General Meeting in New York on Thursday, 20 July, the UN SG said:
“This year marks the 25th anniversary of the decision by the General Assembly to grant the Caribbean Community observer status. Since then, we have worked productively together and, today, our organisations are both undergoing processes of review and strategic planning to better face the challenges of a changing international reality. We are grateful to have benefited from your leadership on many pressing global issues.”
PRESIDENT David Granger served as Chair of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) from January to July, 2017 and during his tenure, he emphasised the economic, environmental and physical security of the citizens who make up the populations of member states. The Guyanese Head of State placed at the top of the regional agenda our right, as members of the Community, to citizenship, to food security and economic viability, a safe and secure existence and the protection of our territorial integrity.
Recognising that the small states that make up the Region must stand firmly together in the face of a constantly changing global environment, President Granger believes that the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) is the key to addressing these bread and butter issues for CARICOM citizens.
Foreign Policy Coordination
Effective foreign policy coordination is viewed as an important enabler for building resilience by effectively positioning CARICOM and the Member States in the global arena through collaboration, cooperation and strategic alliances, the promotion and protection of the interest of CARICOM and other small states to mitigate vulnerability and the leveraging of resources for regional priorities. Heads of Government of CARICOM continue to articulate and harmonise policies and programmes to safeguard and promote the Community’s interests within the global environment. President Granger has attached great importance to foreign policy coordination, even as individual states within the Community pursue their national interests. He believes that foreign policy coordination is one of the four pillars on which the Caribbean Community stands.
Within a current international environment that is replete with uncertainty and complexity, President Granger warned that the efficacy of the Community’s international advocacy could be impaired if coordinated regional positions are weakened.
“The Caribbean Community cannot cling to an obsolete model of insularity in light of these international changes. The mirage of 15 airlines, 15 cricket teams, 15 defence forces and 15 embassies in the capitals of the world might mesmerise a few sentimental romantics, but could deplete the treasuries of our states. The Community, challenged by the constantly changing international situation, must redouble its efforts to ensure a more safe society for its citizens, more stable economies for its countries, deeper solidarity and a more secure hemisphere,” the President said.
Representatives of Antigua and Barbuda were engaged in “quiet diplomacy” with Venezuelan officials over the last few months to promote confidence-building measures such as the release from jail of Mr Leopoldo Lopez, Venezuelan opposition leader, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, the Hon. Gaston Browne said.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Prime Minister Browne welcomed the news of Mr. Lopez’ release.
“My government regards the news of Mr Lopez’s release from prison as a positive step, particularly in light of the offer of CARICOM’s Heads of Government to play a mediating role if all the parties in Venezuela wish it,” the Prime Minister said in the statement.
Statement by Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda on the news of the release from prison in Venezuela of Leopoldo Lopez
JOHN’S, Antigua and Barbuda – 8th July, 2017 – I welcome the news of the release of Leopoldo Lopez from prison in Venezuela.
His release should be regarded as a confidence building measure between the Government and opposition political parties in Venezuela in efforts to reinvigorate a dialogue between them that leads to a Venezuelan solution to the political impasse and economic and social difficulties facing the country.
I urge all parties to seize this good faith measure to engage in the dialogue that is required in the interest of the people of their country.
I can reveal that, over the last few months, representatives of my government have engaged in quiet diplomacy with Venezuelan officials in promotion of confidence building measures, such as the release from jail of Mr Lopez.
In addition to conversations with Venezuelan representatives of the government and the opposition, our Ambassador to the Organisation of American States, Sir Ronald Sanders, also accepted a call last month from Lilian Tintori, the wife of Leopoldo Lopez.
We believe in offering a helping hand to the parties and not in interference or intervention.
My government regards the news of Mr Lopez’s release from prison as a positive step, particularly in light of the offer of CARICOM’s Heads of Government to play a mediating role if all the parties in Venezuela wish it.
CARICOM Heads of Government, meeting in Conference in Grenada on 4-6 July, 2017, discussed the serious challenges facing Venezuela and its people. They reaffirmed their guiding principles of adherence to the rule of law, respect for human rights and democracy, as well as for the fundamental principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of states.
Concerned with the difficult political, economic and social situation in Venezuela, in particular the increase in violence and polarization between the Government and the Opposition, and its effect on the people of Venezuela, and recognising the urgent need to find a solution to the present situation, and that this had to be sought internally, CARICOM Heads of Government called for all parties to commit to engage in renewed dialogue and negotiation leading to a comprehensive political agreement with established time tables, concrete actions and guarantees to ensure its implementation for the well-being of the nation. In this regard, CARICOM Heads of Government offered their good offices to facilitate this dialogue.
CARICOM Heads of Government mandated the Chairman of Conference to communicate with the parties concerned in Venezuela about this offer.