Key regional foreign policy discussions ongoing at Grenada meeting

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CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, makes remarks at the opening of COFCOR in St George’s, Grenada

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada – Coordinating foreign policy matters to help promote the Region’s development and ensuring that the Caribbean remains a Zone of Peace are underpinning discussions at a two-day Meeting of CARICOM foreign ministers which opened in St George’s, Grenada, on Monday.

Grenada’s Foreign Minister, Peter David is chairing this 22nd Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), which is also deliberating on CARICOM relations with the European Union, particularly the Post-Cotonou negotiations between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU.

As Bahamas’ foreign minister, Darren Henfield handed over the chairmanship of COFCOR to Grenada; he cautioned that “our bonds, though tested, must always remain strong.”

He pointed to the recent traction gained through cooperation with, among others, Romania and the United States, aimed at building resilience, including financial resilience.

The financial services sector, he noted, was being “severely impacted” by what he described as the “unfair and unwarranted pressure” from mechanisms proposed by the European Commission and other developed countries to regulate the sector.

CARICOM, he said, was heartened by Romania’s commitment that during its presidency of the European Union (EU), it will advocate and facilitate discussions on blacklisting of CARICOM countries by several EU member states. CARICOM must continue to address this issue, he said, noting that the Region is looking forward to discussions later this month in Germany.

The incoming chairman, minister David, in acknowledging the recent very challenging period that witnessed escalating regional political and social tensions and adverse security concerns which demanded keen analyses and prudent decision-making, said:

“Grenada assumes the mantle and will work assiduously to ensure that gains are cemented that the fundamental principles of the Community are espoused in all undertakings and that we coordinate all policy efforts to the benefit of all Community Member States and to ensure that the Region remains a Zone of Peace through meaningful dialogue.”

In his remarks, CARICOM Secretary-General, Irwin LaRocque said co-operation with the US, the UK, Canada, Spain, Germany and Italy, to mention but a few, continue to make valuable contributions to the well-being of the people of the Community.

He too recognized the “great challenges” facing the hemisphere.

“The ongoing political situation in Venezuela is worrisome and requires an urgent and concerted response from all actors,” he said, adding that CARICOM is being guided by:

“…principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the affairs of states, prohibition of the threat or use of force, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law and respect for the constitutional framework, human rights and democracy.”

LaRocque told the foreign ministers that as they coordinate the Community’s position going forward, they must be cognizant that the Community faced a world where major actors show a decreased interest in a common approach to global problems.

“CARICOM, as small states, must, therefore, rely more than ever on focused and coordinated diplomacy, bolster its relations with like-minded states and continue to advocate for multilateralism,” LaRocque stated.

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