August 14, 2012
Gonsalves wants love, care for OECS

Describing the occasion as “a beautiful day”, Chairman of the OECS Authority Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves called on the members of the Assembly, along with the citizens of the subregion, to above all things, love and care for the OECS.{{more}}

Joined by other sub-regional heads of government, as well as with parliamentary opposition members from the member states and associate member states, Gonsalves addressed the first sitting of the OECS Assembly, which took place at the Parliament building in Antigua and Barbuda, last Friday.

Entering the parliament as one unit, government and opposition members from the organization came together for the first time to officially herald in the newest institution, which was created with the signing and ratification of the Revised Treaty of Basseterre.

Gonsalves, in his address, said that his urging to love the organization may sound simple, but is the most important goal for consideration.

“Each of us has an obligation to love and care for his or her family, and to be considerate to those who depend on us. The OECS is part of our extended family; indeed politically it is part of our family. If we speak in all the highfaluting tongues of men or woman, or even of angels, but we have not love or caring, we are merely sounding brass and clanging cymbals.

“Our love and caring for the OECS must preserve it and contain our hopes and faith for the future. In everything we do or say politically, we must have the OECS at its centre, we must approach its work with steadfastness and creativity. It must bind us ever more together; and our governments must make every effort to pay the dues required to the OECS and its organs for it to survive and thrive.”

Gonsalves said that the Assembly should not be defined as an academic or intellectual pursuit, but rather an exercise in improving the quality of lives of the peoples in the region, through areas of vital cooperation, which the region has been involved in, and would continue to do better through the institution.

“This is to deliver real benefits for real flesh and blood people who constitute the citizens of our OECS region.”

Although a number of opposition leaders were noticeably absent (namely Lester Bird of Antigua, Stephenson King of St Lucia and Keith Mitchell of Grenada), government and opposition members sat side by side in a forum which it is hoped, will deepen and strengthen regional integration and cooperation.

The Chairman called the meeting the first concrete step regionally and collectively, to engage the government and opposition parliamentarians in a profound consultative process in decision making, which hopefully would evolve into actual lawmaking and direct elections in the not too distant future.

“Our Revised Treaty of Basseterre of 2010 has made a quantum leap in regional governance and the creation of a single economic space, but challenges abound. Ironically, the global economic crisis which caused us to bind ourselves ever more closely in a more perfect union, contains ingredients to divide and fragment us.

“Remember too that our very ‘islandness’ sometimes engenders unseemly nationalist and chauvinistic impulses, so let us ever be reminded that divisiveness and West Indian unity are riding partners. We are to face these realities and make sure that the unity side of the contradictions prevails over the divisive elements.

“That is why I urge above all that we must love and care for the OECS. It is our anchor in the dangerous regional and global communities.”(JJ)