Prime Minister Douglas among Caribbean leaders attending Conference 33

St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas (second from the right) among Caribbean leaders at the opening of the 33rd Conference in St. Lucia on Wednesday morning.

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JULY 4TH 2012 (CUOPM) – St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas is among Caribbean leaders attending the 33rd Conference of Heads of Governments which opened in Castries, St. Luca on Wednesday.

During the opening ceremony in the morning Wednesday leaders bemoaning the failure to implement agreements reached in the past and worried over the continued impact the global economic and financial crisis is having on their respective countries.

In addition, the opening ceremony provided an opportunity for the leaders to again reiterate their commitment to the regional integration movement, underscoring the fact that without CARICCOM, such an organisation would have to be invented.

CMC’s Peter Richards reported that Jamaica’s Prime Minister the Most Honourable Portia Simpson-Miller used the occasion to dispel reports that Kingston was contemplating leaving the 15-nation bloc amid concerns that it was being unfairly treated, particular in its trading relations with Trinidad and Tobago.

“I want to underscore Jamaica’s commitment to regionalism as a core principle of our foreign policy and external trade policy.

“Jamaica will continue to publicly reiterate the importance of regional integration movement to the attainment of our national development goals and for the advancement of our region as a whole,” she said, acknowledging nonetheless that “the regional concept remains a work in process”.

She told her regional colleagues that if CARICOM was not around “it would have to be invented” adding that it was now important to bring the general population into the whole CARICOM movement.

She also urged that CARICOM consider allowing all categories of workers move freely across the region under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Host Prime Minister and incoming CARICOM Chairman, the Hon. Dr. Kenny Anthony, said despite the many challenges facing the regional integration at the moment “our people need not feel folorn” adding at the same time, the region cannot afford its citizens ” to grow cynical and quip a defeatist “c’est la vie in the causality of perception”

He told the opening ceremony that a day had been set aside during the three-day summit for the leaders to meet in caucus for “frank discourse” on CARICOM.

“We need to talk with each other. I have therefore arranged our agenda to devote an entire day to a caucus of heads, initially alone, and later with our officials. I believe we must take time to share our hopes, dreams and aspirations for our beloved though enigmatic region.

“We must start again by re-establishing the political chemistry that bound us together. We need to re-affirm our common future, our common faith,” he said, adding “we cannot afford to leave the winds of progress uncaught when they blow.

“The gales and harmattans of global politics and economics mean that we must be willing to venture through waters unchartered. We must be enterprising, yet perspective and willing to put into our common cloud the store of knowledge and expertise held throughout our states,” he said.

Foreign Policy Co-ordination in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is high on the agenda when the leaders will be examining the thrust of the Community’s Foreign Policy approach given the on-going changes in global political and economic circumstances.

These changes pose challenges to the continuing development of the Community as well as for the practice of the Community’s external and political relations. However, they also create opportunities that can be exploited to the benefit of the Community.

The on-going reform process in the Community will be up for discussion as will developments in Haiti and matters in relation to youth development in particular arising out of the recent high level meeting between the youth of CARICOM and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).

The meeting of the Heads of Government was preceded by the meetings of the Council for Finance and Planning (COFAP) on Monday, and the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committees on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and on External Negotiations on Tuesday. Recommendations coming out of these sessions will also be placed before the Heads of Government

Other members of the St. Kitts and Nevis delegation are the Federation’s Ambassador to CARICOM, His Excellency Wendell Lawrence, Her Excellency Commissioner Astona Browne and Senior Foreign Service Officer, Mr. Samuel Berridge.

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