BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JULY 21ST 2014 (CUOPM) –St. Kitts and Nevis’ Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Patrice Nisbett is leading a four-person delegation to the ground-breaking First CARICOM-Turkey Consultation and Cooperation Meeting which concludes Monday in Istanbul, Turkey.
This Meeting is the final culmination of talks that began in July 2013 when the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, the Hon. Ahmet Davutoğlu, first extended the invitation to the Foreign Ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Secretary General.
As a demonstration of the importance attributed to the Meeting as an opening chapter in a new phase of engagement and cooperation between Turkey and the CARICOM region, the Meeting is attended by Foreign Ministers from eleven CARICOM countries with senior representation from the remaining three.
Delegates received a warm and princely reception to Turkey and are being treated to an extensive and impressive programme of activities designed to acquaint the Caribbean delegation to the rich culture and history of Turkey and its ancient city of Istanbul.
The Ministerial Meeting opened with addresses by the His Excellency Ahmet Davutoğlu, His Excellency Dr. Irwin Laroque, Secretary General of CARICOM and the Honourable Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guyana.
The opening addresses made by the Caribbean representatives emphasized the eagerness at which Caribbean countries wish to embrace the opportunity to deepen and intensify relations with non-traditional allies such as Turkey as part of their own strategy to forge the necessary partnerships that would yield tangible results and the realization of the growth and development agenda of the region.
To this end, the Meeting is intended to draw a strategic action plan for future engagement between Turkey and the Caribbean in order maximize the relationship and diversify modes of cooperation that would put greater emphasis on trade and commercial engagement.
The excitement in strengthening the bonds of friendship between CARICOM and Turkey was expressed in the address made by H.E. Davutoğlu where he stated that “I am convinced that this meeting will not only help cement the fundamentals of our relations but also enrich and diversify them. The Caribbean occupies an important place in [Turkey’s] outreach strategy. The Caribbean is not only the new frontier of the Turkish Foreign Policy. We consider you as our distant neighbours that represent the voice of the global conscience.”
The Plenary session that ensued provided an opportunity for Caribbean and Turkish representatives to dialogue with each other on important global issues, and to share their perspectives on critical topics related to political relations, economic issues, investments, environmental issues, development cooperation and the potential for establishing transportation/travel links between CARICOM and Turkey.
The Meeting was also treated to several presentations by Turkish officials outlining the Turkish framework for development cooperation and coordination, its framework for foreign economic engagement and its perspective on Climate Change.
At Meetings end, it was generally agreed and expressed that the deliberations were highly successful with sophisticated and intelligent interventions being made by both sides as to how the relationship could be more effectively be advanced. The meeting saw several outcomes that would pave the way forward to a more action-oriented engagement which include: (1) – The commitment to explore the possibility of CARICOM to open a joint Embassy in the Republic of Turkey with assistance from the Turkish government; (2) – The commitment by Turkey to establish a Caribbean Business Council that would explore ways for Turkish enterprises to invest in the region; (3) – The commitment by Turkey to open an Embassy/liaison Office from which the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) can operate and oversee the projects that would be implemented in the region in the future; (4) – The commitment to explore the possibility of negotiating a Free Trade Agreement between Turkey and CARICOM to facilitate Trade and investments and to complete work to establish a calendar to begin negotiations; (5) – The commitment to collaborate and coordinate positions and advocacy in relation to various political issues related to promoting the SIDS Agenda within the processes to negotiate a new global pact on Climate Change and the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The main outcome document, the Istanbul Declaration on a New Era of Cooperation and Consultation between Turkey and the Caribbean Community (18th July 2014 can be found on the website www.caricom.org.