Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 05, 2016 (SKNIS): Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris has underscored the necessity for the Greater Caribbean to be integrated on many fronts if it is to create a sustainable Caribbean that will redound to the benefit of all the people of the Region, while praising the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) for its role in furthering this goal.

Cuban Military and Officials Greets PM Harris

Speaking to Heads of State and Government at the recently concluded VII Summit of the ACS Heads of State and/or Government held in Havana, Cuba, on June 04, 2016, Prime Minister Harris said that “themap of global, political and economic influence is slowly shifting. And the ACS must remain significant as a regional bloc whose competencies are extremely important for our development and human survival. The pillars of the ACS are central to our human development goals and take into account the challenges and vulnerabilities of the Greater Caribbean.”

“Today, the ACS bears testimony to increased regional relevance as it continues to grow in membership and attract extra-regional players as Observers. We therefore extend warm expressions of welcome to our newest affiliates,” Prime Minister Harris added.

Photo (L-R) Director of People's Empowerment, Mr. Duncan Wattley; Charges D'affaires Mrs. Verna Morris-Mills; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honourable Mark Brantley; Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris; Permanent Secretary Mr. Osbert DeSuza; Foreign Service Officer, Ms. Sonia Boddie

Photo (L-R) Director of People’s Empowerment, Mr. Duncan Wattley; Charges D’affaires Mrs. Verna Morris-Mills; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honourable Mark Brantley; Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris; Permanent Secretary Mr. Osbert DeSuza; Foreign Service Officer, Ms. Sonia Boddie

He said that “cooperation has long been a driving factor within the Greater Caribbean” and has been demonstrated in efforts at regional integration in areas including transport, health, natural disasters, education, trade and culture.

“Intra-Caribbean cooperation should never be considered a choice, but a habit that is unbreakable, a way of life that is embedded deep in the minds and souls of our peoples,” Dr. Harris said, while emphasizing that the ACS has a greater role today “to engage each other, communicate and circumvent any geographical or linguistic barrier that could impede the progress of this regional bloc.”

He called on the ACS to continue to build stronger relationships with “the national governments and sub-regional groupings of the Greater Caribbean, and to remain focused and pragmatic in its decisions in order to deliver tangible results to its people while simultaneously garnering their full support.”

Dr. Harris told all in attendance at the Summit that the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis remains committed to regional integration and “will continue to work assiduously for its cause” and underscored the role of the ACS in the Region’s sustainability efforts.

The prime minister said that climate change presents a real threat to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like St. Kitts and Nevis and that in order to combat it, there is need for concerted effort on the part of the Region.

“The adverse effects of climate change will only retard the advances we have already made in agriculture, threaten food security, cripple our efforts to eradicate hunger and poverty and achieve sustainable development. The onus is on us, to mitigate the destructive effects now, so that we can do less damage control later,” he said.

Prime Minister Harris said that although the challenges we face are many and somewhat similar in nature, “it is only through a shared vision, strong resolve and collaborative approach that we as a region can and will transcend our limitations to surmount the many difficulties and dangers that obstruct our development and undermine our sovereignty.”

He urged Latin America and the Caribbean to pool its wide spectrum of resources together for “the good of all our peoples.”

Dr. Harris was confident that the Plan of Action 2016-2018 ratified by all countries in attendance at the Summit is testimony that “with zeal of a high order and a renewed spirit geared toward the orientation of results. It is our conviction that the work that emanated from this Summit was well worth our time, dedication and effort. Hence, it is imperative for us to work diligently for its realization.”

He concluded by commending the Government of the Republic of Cuba along with the ACS Secretariat for the successful hosting and concluding of the Summit.

“Truly the hospitality, benevolence, and empathy of the Cuban people are common characteristics of the Caribbean,” Prime Minister Harris said.

The prime minister’s delegation to Cuba included the Honourable Mark Brantley, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mr. Osbert DeSuza, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister; Mr. Duncan Wattley, Director in the Department of People’s Empowerment; Ms. Sonia Boddie, Foreign Service Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Mrs. Verna Morris-Mills, St. Kitts and Nevis’ Chargé d’affaires in Cuba.

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