St. Kitts and Nevis to benefit from regional cooperation with Turkey

His Excellency Edwin W. Carrington, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) (left) greets the newly accredited Plenipotentiary Representative of Turkey to the Caribbean Community, His Excellency Nihat Akyol after accepting his credentials at the CARICOM Secretariat

ST. KITTS, JUNE 3, 2010 (CUOPM) – St. Kitts and Nevis is expected to benefit from the strengthening of diplomatic ties between Caribbean nations and the Republic of Turkey.

The Georgetown-based Caribbean Community Secretariat and Turkey signed an agreement for deepened cooperation in areas such as disaster management, climate change, trade, education, culture and tourism. His Excellency Dr. Edwin Carrington, CARICOM Secretary-General accepted the Letters of Credence of His Excellency Nihat Akyol, Plenipotentiary Representative of Turkey to CARICOM.

In his remarks, the Secretary-General said CARICOM had viewed Turkey as “a unique south-south interlocutor,” and it was, “deeply appreciative” of the country’s desire to develop with the Region “an equitable and valuable partnership based on shared values, and mutual respect.”

Describing the Turkish Ambassador’s outreach in the Caribbean as “consistent and constructive,” Mr. Carrington welcomed Turkey, “into the fold of close friends of the Caribbean Community.”

The Secretary-General said that he looked forward to the conclusion a CARICOM-Turkey Memorandum of Understanding, as early as practicable, to cement existing ties and to build on the current cooperation arrangement. He noted that the Community had already benefitted “immensely” from Turkey’s support, particularly in 2006, to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) through the Regional Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) Programme. This support, he said, was critical as CDEMA had directly facilitated the Community’s response to the 12 January disaster in Haiti.

Secretary-General Carrington said that he anticipated response to natural disasters will form a critical part of CARICOM-Turkey cooperation as the country was “only too familiar” with the damage and destruction of natural disasters. Describing climate change as a “prime global concern,” he said CARICOM looked forward to collaborating with Turkey in defining a “common agenda for responsible change of global behaviours in respect of the environment,” ahead of the Sixteen Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (COP 16), scheduled, scheduled for Mexico later this year.

Climate change for the Region was not “an abstract or theoretical threat, but a painful reality,” the Secretary-General said, adding that coastal erosion, rising temperatures and sea levels, and the attendant damages caused by flooding, as well as extreme weather patterns were just some of the challenges confronting the Member States of the Caribbean Community. “That is why CARICOM will continue to advocate a ceiling of 1.5 degrees centigrade in respect of global temperature rise. We count on Turkey’s support of this call,” he stated.

Mr. Carrington expressed appreciation of its support to the long-term development in the Region through its offer of undergraduate scholarships for fifteen CARICOM Nationals to pursue disciplines of their choice beginning in the academic year 2010-2011. He encouraged Ambassador Akyol to recommend that his government considers a proposal for the ‘Year of the Caribbean in Turkey’ and a reciprocal ‘Year of Turkey in the Caribbean’ for closer people-to-people contacts between Turkey and the Caribbean.

Further, he said, the Region looked forward to engaging Turkey in advancing The Alliance of Civilisations Initiative, which it was spearheading jointly with Spain, and which the Caribbean Community had pledged to support.

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