Barbados Wednesday called for a united front when dealing with issues confronting the Caribbean.
Addressing the Regional Consultation for an Effective Platform for CARIFORUM French Caribbean Outermost Regions (FCORS) and British and Dutch Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTS), Acting Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Steve Blackett, said there was a need for an end to fragmented approaches to dealing with regional affairs.
He said the Caribbean region is too small for the fragmented approaches to continue and maintained that there must be some regard to the “consolidation and harnessing of our efforts.
“Some constructs may not be as effective and efficient as initially envisaged [and there is room for improvement. These improvements will help us to dialogue on immediate matters such as the pending departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union and the pending consultations on the future of the relationship between the African, Caribbean and Pacific States and the European Union, for example.”
Blackett told delegates that it could no longer be business as usual in light of the advances in the global community, urging countries to capitalise on the transformation and use all available resources to build a region that was “testimony to the vision of the late Clovis Bureaugard.
“His insightfulness on Caribbean unity has to a great degree led to us being here today: – a region which cooperates and coordinates to its advantage…a region which has real time connectivity, the sharing of best practices, sustainable development and increased standard of living for all.
“Let us not see each other as competitors, but as partners [that] involve the relevant stakeholders at the public, private and civil society level. A partnership which is built on the appropriate structures at the political and technical levels,” Blackett said.
CARIFORUM Director General Percival Marie, described the two-day meeting as timely noting that a special meeting of the Council of Ministers of CARIFORUM held last month in St. Kitts- Nevis had came to the agreement that building and maintaining relationships among the countries was of great benefit to the region.
Marie said that at this point in time, the relationship had to be strengthened, particularly in light some of the events of the last two years which had demonstrated that despite the differences in language and constitution, there were common issues and fates.
“We need to assist each other in times of need; we have to find ways to institutionalise the response that we give to each other”, he added.
The Barbados-based Ambassador of the European Union Delegation, Daniela Tramacere. said there was need to strengthen the wider Caribbean relationship as current conditions being experienced in relation to hurricanes, climate change and infectious diseases did not allow the Region not to do so.
“The Caribbean is facing fundamental challenges and these challenges can only be overtaken if the countries work together”, she said, encouraging delegates to be creative when coming up with ideas and suggestions for collaboration and cooperation during the sessions.
“We have to think out of the box and reflect on which kind of Caribbean you want to build for the future. We are a reliable and steady partner and we are ready to support it”, she added.
The two day consultation is being funded under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Regional Indicative Programme through a dedicated Technical Cooperation Facility (TCF) which, in part, aims to strengthen cooperation among CARIFORUM States, the French Caribbean Outermost (FCORs) and Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).