MALABO, Equatorial Guinea -- The seventh summit of heads of state and government of the African, Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Group of states should send a message to the international community that the Group “is here to stay.”
That was the view of the chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Dr Kenny Anthony, prime minister of Saint Lucia, as he addressed the opening ceremony of the summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday. The Malabo gathering, he said should be a call to reaffirm ACP unity and solidarity.
“Let this meeting here in this cradle of Africa send out a message of hope and of unity,” he added.
“If ever the ACP must speak boldly with one voice, and with shared conviction it is now,” the CARICOM chairman declared.
The prime minister said that the travails in Europe and the new European Union (EU) Development Policy should be viewed not just as causes for concern, but, as a wake-up call to the ACP family that the time had come to look at “ourselves and shape our future independent of a relationship with Europe.”
Anthony urged the ACP to fix its sights beyond Europe and to remember the wider purposes for which the Group existed.
“At this time of economic distress worldwide, we must look beyond our boundaries for ways in which our unity can make a difference to solutions, and work among ourselves and with other developing countries to bring hope to our people and credit to our Group,” he stated.
“We should always be seeking to find new innovative ways to ensure the continued relevance of our ACP,” he added.
In looking to secure the Group’s future, he said, there should be a virtual passing of the torch to a new, younger technological generation, that would utilise the technology which was already an integral part of their lives to not only cement ties among the ACP but also to strengthen relationships between the ACP and the other poles that were emerging.
The CARICOM chairman reminded his audience that the ACP Group of States was the largest trans-regional intergovernmental organization of developing countries with a membership of 79 states. Those numbers gave the Group a comparative advantage that it must fully embrace and exploit as it represented a very large development and investment partner, the Saint Lucia prime minister said.
Anthony said the Caribbean would always be proud of its role in the beginnings of the ACP and was determined to revitalise its central role in the ACP.