OECS Director General, Dr Len Ishmael (L), greets Chilean Ambassador, Eduardo Bonilla
CASTRIES, St Lucia -- Ambassador of Chile, Eduardo Bonilla, affirmed his country’s support for an enhanced relationship with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) when he presented credentials from Santiago to the director general of the OECS at a special ceremony last Friday at the OECS Secretariat’s Headquarters in Castries, Saint Lucia.
Bonilla, the first ambassador of Chile to the OECS, expressed confidence in the ability of the two sides to realize a lasting and fruitful cooperation agenda which could include areas such as agriculture, fisheries, health, disaster management, international negotiations and Spanish language scholarships.
“I am honoured to be the first Chilean Ambassador appointed to this very important and successful regional organization. It is my country’s wish to demonstrate its commitment to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States by jointly formulating long term cooperation along the South-South model,” he said.
Bonilla said in the next few months the Agency for International Cooperation of Chile will conduct a tour to jointly establish activities for the following year. He stressed his commitment to work closely with the OECS director general to further strengthen bilateral relations to the benefit of Chile and the member states of the OECS.
In accepting the Chilean ambassador’s letters of accreditation, the director general of the OECS, Dr Len Ishmael, said that the regional grouping is extremely pleased that the government of Chile has given concrete expression to its desire to develop closer links with the Eastern Caribbean Region and, in particular, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.
“I am confident that cooperation between the OECS and Chile and also between Latin America and the Caribbean will experience tremendous improvement in the months and years ahead… We have much to learn from each other culturally and much to gain in terms of cooperation and mutual support,” Ishmael said.
Addressing members of the diplomatic corps and senior OECS staff, Ishmael added that, alongside economic cooperation, the OECS also hopes to further pursue pragmatic and feasible initiatives with Chile in the realm of South-South and trilateral cooperation, noting that in the past the region has greatly benefitted from cooperation with Chile in areas such as language training and diplomatic courses.
She said the OECS looks forward to the strengthening of such cooperation to include other vital areas such as disaster management and agriculture.
Ishmael acknowledged the resilience of Chile’s economy which achieved solid economic growth in 2010 despite the devastating earthquake and tsunami which occurred in February of that year.
Ishmael also spoke to the need to build the resilience of OECS member states in the face of global threats such as financial shocks and natural disasters and described the OECS Economic Union, the highest form of economic integration, as one of the strategies by which this can be achieved.
She hailed the OECS Economic Union as the most important symbol of the region’s unity to date, where people and labour, goods, services and capital will move freely within a single space and policies in key areas such as agriculture, energy, tourism and environment are being coordinated collectively.
The OECS director general stated further that Chile has a very important role to play in the promotion of a viable Latin America and Caribbean region given its active role in international and regional affairs.
Ishmael commended Chile for its efforts to advance the regional agenda as the president of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) which met in January 2013.
The director general noted that the OECS and Chile share a strong commitment towards common values and development objectives and in this connection expressed the region’s belief that Chile will be able to contribute towards the advancement of peace and social progress worldwide.
Chile brings to twelve the number of countries currently accredited to the OECS.