May 28, 2010
IMF issues its report on SVG

Prime Minister Dr.Ralph Gonsalves has slammed his fellow CARICOM leaders for a poor turnout of the region’s heads at the VI European Union-Latin America and Caribbean Summit held in Spain.{{more}}

Only three prime ministers from the region attended the high level meeting: Roosevelt Skerrit, of Dominica; Jean-Max Bellerive, of Haiti, and Gonsalves, of St.Vincent and the Grenadines.

Describing the importance of the meeting held on May18, Gonsalves stressed that the European Union is one of the main sources of grant funds to the CARIFORUM region. He also used the opportunity to point out the importance of using such occasions for bilateral meetings.

“It just doesn’t look good to have President Sarkozy on one side and an ambassador representing you on the other side,” said Gonsalves, stating that the region’s representation was disappointing.

On the other hand, almost every president or Head of State from Latin America and the European Union attended the session, said Gonsalves.

“In other words, this is a high level summit for leaders to exchange ideas on the pressing issues of the day,” said Gonsalves.

On Sunday, May 16, 2010, Gonsalves left for Madrid, Spain, heading a contingent that comprised Minister of Housing, Lands and Surveys, Saboto Caesar; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Andreas Wickham; and wife of the prime minister, Eloise Gonsalves.

“You don’t have to have everybody, but if we have fourteen governments, surely we can have a half a dozen. We can have seven, maybe eight, and work out in advance who is going to talk about what,” said Gonsalves.

The prime minister said he is aware that his criticism will not be taken kindly by his fellow CARICOM colleagues, but he has to say it. Some leaders chose not to attend the meeting, he said, because of various domestic reasons.

President of the European Commission, José Manuel Durao Barroso, expressed that the summit had provided a great opportunity “to open up unexplored territory” in relations between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean.

He also underlined the importance of the conversations undertaken to combat climate change, while mention was made of the displays of solidarity towards Haiti and Chile, after the recent natural disasters suffered in these countries.

The heads of state or government from some sixty European, Latin American and Caribbean countries gathered in Madrid for three days to not only strengthen their political and trade not relations, but also to refine points of view in readiness for other forums of international participation. (HN)