BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JUNE 13th, 2016 (PRESS SEC) – Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, at this morning’s media launch of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States’ 35th Anniversary Celebrations, reflected on the appropriateness and significance of the theme Connecting People, Integrating Ideas, Moving Forward.
“I think this is a well-expressed theme because, ultimately, it is the people who would adjudge the successes of the integration movement within the sub-region of the OECS, and ultimately all of our efforts should be geared at ensuring a better quality of life for the people of this sub-region,” Prime Minister Harris, the incoming OECS Chairman, said today, June 13th, during a press videoconference.
This morning’s press videoconference linked OECS representatives in St. Lucia with the press videoconference participants who were at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) in St. Kitts. Linked up by videoconferencing in St. Lucia were Mr. Anthony Severin, the OECS Commission’s Head of International Relations; Dr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the OECS Commission; the Honourable Dame Janice M. Pereira, Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court; Mr. Donald McPhail, Director General of the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority; Mr. Embert Charles, Managing Director of the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority, and Mr. Cosbert Woods, Chairperson of the 35th Anniversary Committee.
At the head table in St. Kitts were Prime Minister Harris; Mr. Timothy Antoine, Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, and His Excellency Sydney Osborne, OECS Commissioner. Mr. Samuel Berridge, Senior Foreign Service Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Honourable Ian Liburd, Minister of Public Infrastructure et al. were also in attendance. Journalists from across the OECS were linked up by video conferencing.
Prime Minister Harris continued: “In keeping with our theme, therefore, we the people of St. Kitts and Nevis proudly acknowledge and recognize the roles, responsibilities and invaluable achievements of the key institutions within our Organisation, and we pay homage to the work that has been done by the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority, the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and, of course, our own Eastern Caribbean Central Bank. Our harmonized and coordinated responses to matters of aviation, telecommunications, the judiciary and common currency have borne dividends, including the benefits of efficiency and effectiveness, in the handling of these matters than would otherwise be derived by our individual country efforts. Working together, for example, we have created one of the world’s most stable currencies, and equally we through our pharmaceutical procurement mechanisms have achieved the most affordable drugs for the people of the region. Regionalism has been people-centred and our people in the OECS have certainly benefited from it.”
Saturday, June 18th – OECS Day – which is the 35th Anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Basseterre, is therefore an opportune time to reflect not only on the accomplishments of the OECS, but also on the lives and times of the luminary men and woman who assembled in the capital city of St. Kitts to help chart the course of the region.
The original signatories were Antigua and Barbuda (signed by Deputy Premier Lester Bird); Dominica (Prime Minister Mary Eugenia Charles); Grenada (Prime Minister Maurice Bishop); Montserrat (Minister of Education Franklyn Margetson); St. Kitts and Nevis (Premier Kennedy Simmonds who became the country’s first Prime Minister in September 1983); St. Lucia (Prime Minister Winston Cenac), and St. Vincent and the Grenadines (Deputy Prime Minister Hudson Tannis). By signing the treaty, they agreed to cooperate with each other and promote unity and solidarity among the OECS membership. The British Virgin Islands joined the OECS in November 1984 and Anguilla in May 1995; both are associate members. The Revised Treaty of Basseterre, which was signed on June 18th, 2010 in St. Lucia and entered into force in January 2011, established the OECS Economic Union, essentially creating a single economic and financial space in the Member States and setting the stage for deeper integration. Martinique became an associate member of the OECS in February 2015.