Caribbean Foreign ministers end 16th COFCOR meeting in Trinidad

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, MAY 17TH 2013 (CUOPM) – St. Kitts and Nevis’ Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Patrice Nisbett was among CARICOM Foreign Ministers who held productive exchanges with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic and New Zealand, as well as with the Special Envoy of the Government of Japan at the 16TH Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

At the Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on 14th and 15th May 2013, the Council considered the political and economic changes in the hemisphere and beyond, as well as critical issues that continue to impact CARICOM Member States.

“These include climate change, the continued negative effects of the global financial and economic crisis on regional economies, and disturbing trends with regard to development assistance such as graduation and differentiation which result in diminishing access to aid and concessionary funding. It was underlined that the criteria being used to assess eligibility for aid do not take ample account of the peculiarities and vulnerabilities of small island states (SIDS) that affect development,” said a communiqué issued at the end of the meetuing.

In addition to addressing the above challenges, CARICOM Foreign Ministers deliberated on means to enhance the Community’s relations with critical, like-minded partner countries in order to safeguard the Community’s interests and positions. In this context, CARICOM’s relations with traditional and new partners were discussed as well as extending its outreach beyond the traditional spheres.

The Foreign Ministers analysed the Region’s role and emphasized the contribution that CARICOM makes in multilateral fora such as the Organization of American States, the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the Association of Caribbean States and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

“They also focused on Community issues such as requests for associate membership, the situation in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the border issues concerning Guyana and Venezuela, and Belize and Guatemala. The point was made that after forty years of the integration process, there should be a departure from the past. It had become necessary to design a new architecture to move the process beyond its current limits, to widen and deepen the process. This would require proposals for financial flows, working with development financing institutions, for the logistics of transportation, for energy and food security and for education to empower youth, all within the framework for the convergence model,” said the statement.

Attention was paid to the decision-making processes of the Council and of its Bureau, to enhance their effectiveness. In view of the increasing number of external engagements required of the members of the Council, and the resulting demands on the limited resources of Member States, the Council considered options to optimize CARICOM representation in these engagements when all Member States could not participate.

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