Co-hosting Meeting symbolises Guyana’s commitment to integration – Guyana Foreign Minister

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Finance Minister of Guyana, the Hon Carl Greenidge
Foreign Affairs Minister of Guyana, the Hon Carl Greenidge

[su_pullquote align=”right”]“That is part of the process of deepening our role in CARICOM. To the extent that we can participate in all these meetings and field stronger technical teams, we will be able to represent the Region more effectively.” Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge[/su_pullquote]Guyana’s co-hosting of the upcoming Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM symbolises a continued commitment to its involvement in deliberations that support the processes and institutions of integration.

This is the view of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guyana, the Hon. Carl Greenidge who sat down for an interview with the CARICOM Secretariat ahead of the 37th Heads of Government Meeting 4-6 July in Georgetown, Guyana.

The Conference of Heads of Government, also known as the Conference, is the supreme Organ of the Caribbean Community which provides policy direction to the integration movement. In addition to this function, it is the final authority for the conclusion of Treaties on behalf of the Community and for entering into relationships between the Community and International Organisations and States.

Guyana is co-hosting with the CARICOM Secretariat. The Meeting will be chaired by the Prime Minister of Dominica. This is the second time Guyana will host a Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government outside of the six-monthly rotation schedule of the chairmanship. The first was in 1995 when Dominica, as is the case this year, was unable to host the Meeting.

Guyana’s commitment to CARICOM, Minister Greenidge said, was also manifested in fora such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR in which it is the only CARICOM Member State). He noted that instead of promoting Guyana’s needs, priorities and preferences, the opportunity was seized to apprise the grouping of CARICOM’s main concerns.

“That is part of the process of deepening our role in CARICOM. To the extent that we can participate in all these meetings and field stronger technical teams, we will be able to represent the Region more effectively,” he said

Minister Greenidge pointed out that the Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government was being held “at a time when the Region finds itself in some turmoil or on the periphery of significant change.”

He opined that the most significant challenge was the crisis in Venezuela, and the Community’s response to it. It was therefore important, he noted, that CARICOM Heads discuss this issue against the background of “what is appropriate, what are the rules, what are the obligations.”

During their Meeting, CARICOM Heads of Government will examine an agenda which includes issues pertaining to the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Regional security, correspondent banking, border issues, relations with the Dominican Republic and the implications of the normalisation process between the United States of America and Cuba, are also on the agenda. CARICOM Heads are expected to have an exchange of views with Her Excellency Michelle Bachelet, President of the Republic of Chile, on issues of hemispheric importance.

Minister Greenidge also touched briefly on the critical importance of the United Kingdom (UK) referendum on its membership in the European Union (EU) to CARICOM. Mr. Greenidge posited that the outcome threatened a degree of uncertainty, if not destabilisation in the trade and political relationships between the Region and its European partners. Noting that the EU and its European Development Fund (EDF) was the major source of concessionary grant financing for the Region, Minister Greenidge said what was decided about the future of the relations between the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) grouping and the EU would be very critical.

The ACP, he pointed out, was an important body. It was the only group that had a standing relationship with the North, with whom it negotiated periodically on a range of important issues. Between negotiations, there was a standing platform for addressing the difficulties that arose from implementing what was being negotiated.

Minister Greenidge signalled Guyana’s interest in advancing discussions on the future of the grouping of ACP, based on an offer made by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Chair of the ACP Eminent Persons Group to brief CARICOM Heads on this issue.

“We are going to make sure that the Heads take advantage of that offer, so that when they arrive at a position, it will be as fully informed as possible,” Mr. Greenidge said.

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