In his first Address as Chairman of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Honourable Allen Chastanet noted that today small island states are much less insulated from the impact of world events.
“In our quest for development and the modernization of our societies, we have to navigate difficult, sometimes hostile terrain. The Revised Treaty of Basseterre provides us with the means to do so, by way of deeper economic integration and more extensive functional cooperation,” said the newly appointed Chairman of the OECS.
He called on Members to give more focused attention to implementation of that Treaty and leverage the integration movement to tackle “our common problems of high indebtedness, low employment, poverty, crime and security, climate change, food security, health related challenges, inactivity in our private sector and adverse conditions of trade and international commerce.”
Though he called for the deepening of relationships with existing partners, the Chairman said the OECS “must assert ourselves internationally and extend our diplomatic outreach to new partners who pursue common objectives and adopt principles which are consistent with those of the OECS. In all instances we must ensure that we design new partnership arrangements which take cognizance of our peculiar characteristics and needs as small island developing states.”
The effect of Climate Change and Security are two issues the Chairman says must be high on the agenda of the Grouping. He also called for greater attention to be paid to the design of our education systems to support market demands.
“Through our joint efforts, we can consolidate our economic union achievements, elaborate the legal and institutional architecture necessary for people and businesses to move freely; for ideas to co-mingle and cross fertilize; for innovation to flourish and, in the language of the Revised Treaty of Basseterre, for the OECS to ‘build on our common history for the benefit of our peoples’.”
In his address for the 36th anniversary Prime Minister Chastanet highlighted some of the achievements of the Grouping which included the successful establishment of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority and the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority.
He also mentioned collaborations on the Pharmaceutical Procurement Services Unit, joint representation to the European Union, the technical mission in Geneva and the establishment of the Eastern Caribbean Common Market.