Published On: Thu, Mar 20th, 2014

Strong UK-CARICOM relations can find solutions– SG

LaroqueCARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana - Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General told the new Ambassador of the United Kingdom (UK) to CARICOM, H.E. Victoria Dean, he was convinced the strong and mature relationship between the two parties could meet the challenge of finding reasonable solutions to issues that arose between them.

“We have done so in the past and I have no doubt that we will so do in the future.  We will continue to work together steadfastly and aggressively on the things that we do agree on, in the interest of the security, prosperity and sustainability of our respective communities and the global population,” Secretary-General LaRocque stated. He made his remarks at the ceremony to accept the Letters of Introduction as Ambassador to CARICOM from the British High Commissioner to Barbados, at the Headquarters of the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana on Wednesday.

“UK-CARICOM relations are as diverse as they are deep, spanning from diplomatic and commercial to social and cultural ties, strengthened by a vibrant and active Caribbean Diaspora in the UK,” Secretary-General LaRocque said.

Those ties are bolstered by the UK-Caribbean Forum which provided an important opportunity for identifying, discussing and agreeing upon the priorities for co-operation bilaterally, regionally and multilaterally, he noted.  He added that CARICOM looked forward to another productive exchange in June on issues of mutual importance such as security, climate change, the Post-2015 Development Agenda, sustainable trade and economic growth.

The Secretary-General said the Community was appreciative for the UK’s support, through Department for International Development (DFID), to its adaptation to climate change and in the on-going reform process. He noted that progress in the two-pronged change process that involved a Strategic Plan for the Community and the transformed Secretariat had been satisfactory.

“With your assistance, as part of the Strategic Planning process, we have been able to conduct wide-ranging consultations in every Member State of the Community as well as in two Associate Members. The Draft Strategic Plan is well advanced and will be ready for the Heads of Government Meeting in July. The in-house change team here at the Secretariat has been working closely with the Change Facilitation Team to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our organisation,” Secretary-General LaRocque told the High Commissioner.

On other issues, Ambassador LaRocque noted that CARICOM Heads of Government at their Inter-sessional Summit, last week, reiterated their desire for a “substantive exchange” with the UK and other European nations the issue of Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Genocide. This exchange, he said, was in the context of development and in the “spirit of the mutually respectful and amicable relations” the parties enjoyed.

Noting the High Commissioner’s wide experience in matters related to the European Union, of which the United Kingdom is a key member, he urged that the UK become an advocate for the Region in the EU and other fora with respect to how the policy of graduating small middle-income countries from concessionary aid based on GDP per capita was applied.

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