Left to Right: Eleftherios Tsiavos, Head of Sector Facilities Management – Financial Instruments, DG DEVCO; Markos M. Tipolitakis, ACP Delegate at Permanent Representation of Greece to the EU; OCTA Chairman, Premier of the British Virgin Islands, Dr. Orlando Smith; and Theo Saramandis, Head of the OCT Task Force, European Commission
BRUSSELS, Belgium -- British Virgin Islands premier and minister of finance, Dr Orlando Smith, formally launched his chairmanship of the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA) from April 1 to 2 with an official visit to Brussels.
On the official visit he met European Union (EU) officials and stakeholders, and discussed partnerships and programmes for the benefit of the 26 Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) associated with the EU.
The premier held talks at the European Commission (Commission) with deputy director general of the Directorate General for Development and Cooperation - Europe Aid (DG DEVCO), Marcus Cornaro, with whom he discussed plans for the 13th OCT-EU Forum that will be held in the BVI.
They also discussed cooperation on environmental issues and EU support for conserving the biodiversity of the OCTs, as well as opportunities for partnerships in the wider Caribbean and Pacific regions in the areas of trade and economic development.
In Brussels, Smith also hosted a reception where he introduced himself as OCTA chairman to OCTA partners. These included, among others, representatives of the Greek Presidency of the European Union, the director of the OCT Task Force at the European Commission, Caribbean ambassadors to the EU, a representative of the Guadeloupe Presidency of the EU Outermost Regions, representatives of an environmental non-governmental organisation (NGO) and representatives of the OCTA Executive Committee (ExCo).
Smith, in his remarks at the reception, highlighted the importance of the sustainable development of the OCTs, and the importance of partnerships and cooperation in achieving that goal.
“We must collaborate across a number of areas such as trade, environment, renewable energy and waste management to meet our sustainability goals. The EU, ACP and Outermost Regions are key partners for the OCTs in these endeavours and OCTA looks forward to strengthening our relationships with them,” said the premier.
He also met with United Kingdom Member of European Parliament (MEP) Ashley Fox, with whom he discussed the establishment of an OCT European Parliament Group in the coming months to support the interests of the OCTs in the European Parliament.
BVI London Office director, Kedrick Malone and deputy director, Benito Wheatley, met the secretary general of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of Countries (ACP) Secretariat on behalf of the premier. During the meeting, among other matters, they discussed economic cooperation and programming between the OCTs and ACP countries in the regions where they are located, primarily the Caribbean and Pacific.
The premier concluded his visit with an update to OCTA ExCo on his Brussels meetings and plans for the rest of the year.