Basseterre, St.Kitts-Ministry of Foreign Affairs (May 23rd ):- The 18th convening of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) was concluded today in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. The Meeting brought together Foreign Ministers and other Heads of Delegation and senior officials from the various Ministries of Foreign Affairs from across the region for two-days of intense deliberations on the pressing foreign policy issues that are engaging the region. The Honourable Mark A.G. Brantley, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation of St. Kitts and Nevis led the delegation of St. Kitts and Nevis which also included Mrs. Nerys Dockery, Senior Foreign Service Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Foreign Minister Brantley also participated in the Inaugural Meeting of the Council of Ministers (Foreign Affairs) of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States that preceded the COFCOR Meeting on 21st May 2015. This important meeting launched the regular cycle of Meetings of the Council of Ministers (Foreign Affairs) which will now take place in order to formulate an OECS caucus and identity on foreign policy issues within the larger regional framework of CARICOM. The Inauguration of the Council of Ministers (Foreign Affairs) marked the operationalization of an essential dimension of the new organ established under the reconfigured governance arrangements mandated by the Revised Treaty of Basseterre Establishing OECS Economic Union (RTB).
Under the Revised Treaty, the Council of Ministers is a decision-making body comprised of Ministers of Government coming together in their various configurations in order to advance the general and specific sectorial policy priorities of the sub-regional agenda. Ministers will meet in their various orientations such as the Council of Ministers (Trade) that was launched in March of this year.
The Opening Ceremony for the Inaugural session of the Council of Ministers (Foreign Affairs) was addressed by Dr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the OECS and the Honourable Alva Baptiste, Minister of External Affairs of St. Lucia. The Inauguration was hailed as a seminal event in the history of the OECS that would portend well for the harmonisation and coordination of foreign policy among OECS Member States as they seek to meet the imperatives of the changing global environment.
During the 18th Regular Meeting of the CARICOM Council for Foreign and Community Relations which followed, Foreign Ministers and Heads of Delegation from across the Community took the opportunity to dialogue and strategize on a packed agenda which included matters ranging from exploring the foreign policy dimensions of the emerging transnational security environment, to discussing possible modalities and priorities for joint representation of the Community in strategic locales across the world. The first day of talks was held against the scenic backdrop of the majestic Pitons, where Foreign Ministers were whisked away by boat to a Retreat that allowed for intense, frank and rich discussion on the matters for decision before the COFCOR.
The second day of the Meeting opened with a parade of encounters with distinguished representatives from Third countries who sought to engage the COFCOR in meaningful dialogue on how to work together to address common challenges and concerns. Third country representatives included the Foreign Ministers of Sweden and New Zealand, the State Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan and an envoy of the High Representative for Foreign Policy of the European Union. Ministers then continued to systematically ventilate the remaining agenda items which included discussions on the important priorities of the region in multilateral fora such as the United Nations and Organisation of American States and formulating policies on issues of critical importance to the Community such as climate change, financing for development and the post-2015 development agenda.
The Honourable Mark Brantley, Minister of Foreign Affairs of St. Kitts and Nevis, who was attending this Meeting for the first time, stated that he “welcomed the opportunity to deliberate in caucus with [his] regional counterparts and was sincerely enlivened by the camaraderie that was felt among his peers, the warm hospitality of his St. Lucian hosts and the incisive, focused discussions that ensued over the two-day meeting.”
The delegation of St. Kitts and Nevis returns to the Federation on Saturday.