PM Harris’ tenure as CARICOM Chair ends

FLASHBACK: Outgoing CARICOM Chair, PM Timothy Harris (r) in discussions in Ecuador with the ICG. With him are CARICOM SG, Amb. Irwin LaRocque and CARICOM ASG, Amb. Colin Granderson
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St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris is among speakers who will address the opening ceremony Wednesday afternoon of the 40th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), in his capacity as outgoing Chairman.

The Meeting will take place at the Sandals Grande St. Lucian Hotel under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, the Hon. Allen Chastanet who will also make an address at the opening ceremony. Prime Minister Chastanet’s six-month term as CARICOM’s Chairman will end on 31 December 2019. In addition to the addresses by the two Prime Ministers, delegates at the opening will also hear from the Secretaries-General of CARICOM and the United Nations, Amb. Irwin LaRocque and Antonio Guterres, respectively.

Prime Minister Harris assumed the six-month chairmanship of CARICOM on 1 January 2019. The St. Kitts and Nevis Government Information Service said that over the past six months, PM Harris “worked the phones and travelled on diplomatic missions, as he capably led efforts by CARICOM – along with his colleague Heads of Government, and in particular Dr. the Hon. Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago and the Hon. Mia Mottley of Barbados, as well as CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador His Excellency Irwin LaRocque – to advance dialogue and negotiations for the benefit of the Venezuelan people”.

PM Harris headed high-level CARICOM delegations to the United Nations, Uruguay, Ecuador and Costa Rica, where he engaged in skillful shuttle diplomacy.

Notably, the outgoing Chairman and CARICOM’s Secretary-General have had productive discussions with the International Contact Group (ICG) on Venezuela, which was established by the European Union (EU) in January in response to the political crisis in Venezuela. The ICG comprises the EU, eight of its Member States and several Latin American countries including Costa Rica, Ecuador and Uruguay.

At a breakfast meeting with the ICG in Costa Rica in May, PM Harris reaffirmed CARICOM’s guiding principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the affairs of states, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, and respect for the constitutional order and democracy.

“We really want to be an honest broker in the crisis,” he said back then, adding: “The CARICOM group is neither pro-Maduro nor pro-Guaidó. That determination is for the people of Venezuela alone.”

“We have also found comfort in a mechanism [the Montevideo Mechanism] that would assist us in working within the broad frame of the principles that I have outlined, which says we have to engage in dialogue as we are now doing. From the dialogue, we should have a framework of negotiation; those negotiations should lead to commitments on both sides,” he added. (Adapted from SKNIS Press Release)

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