A delegation from the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), led by the Chairman of the OECS Authority and Prime Minister of Grenada Dr. Keith Mitchell met with the President of Argentina Dr. Alberto Fernandez in Barbados on Tuesday 8th February 2022. A release from the OECS said the meeting formed part of an official February 7-8 visit by President Fernandez to Barbados.
The meeting was at the request of president Fernando with the aim of strengthening the diplomatic ties between Latin America and the Caribbean, especially given Argentina’s recent ascendancy to the Presidency of the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC).
The discussions covered a wide range of areas of mutual interest, with specific focus on climate change,emergency and disaster management and assistance, development financing, technical co-operation and political co-ordination on regional matters.
Prime minister Mitchell expressed the gratitude of the OECS Authority to president Fernandez, using the opportunity to highlight some of the many areas of mutual interest between the OECS and Argentina.
Prime Minister Mitchell identified that “deeper integration, stronger friendships, active interchanges have been a historical dream and aspiration of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean”. He said “our membership in CELAC and the agreements already reached for the active presence of the Caribbean in its leadership structures represent a clear pathway to this aspiration”.
The OECS , as a grouping of the smallest of the Eastern Caribbean States , is prepared to play an active role in ensuring a strong Caribbean contribution in forging stronger bonds of friendship, deeper channels of exchange and dynamic mechanisms of commerce in our continental region, the OECS Chairman affirmed. Therefore, he said it is anticipated that the meeting will lay the foundation for forging this stronger bond among CELAC member states, bringing us closer together as we forge ahead with the development of the region.
In his opening remarks to the OECS delegation, President Fernandez reaffirmed his commitment to carrying the voice of the Caribbean States on the global level, highlighting the urgency of action required to address the plethora of issues faced by the region.
‘’The voice of the Caribbean should have a renewed weight in the concert of Nations, especially due to the disproportionate impact of climate change on the islands,’’ the Argentine President said.
President Fernandez committed to leading the dialogue with multilateral financial institutions, to call for a renewed focus on the Caribbean without the often restrictive demands. He also expressed Argentina’s commitment to disaster management in the region, highlighting the contribution of his country to the CELAC Disaster Fund, calling for swift action to operationalize and ensure the effectiveness of the fund.
In offering remarks to the gathering, Director General of the OECS Dr. Didacus Jules reaffirmed the OECS’ willingness and commitment to work with our Argentinian counterparts on the recommendations raised during the meeting, and further advancement and action through the CELAC framework.
Dr. Jules added, “Given the increased prominence of OECS in CELAC, the time is right now for us to treat CELAC as a focal point for multilateral and trilateral relations between the OECS and CELAC member states.’’
Members of the OECS and Argentina delegations agreed to continued discussions to follow up on the recommendations from the meeting. The meeting utilised a hybrid approach, with some members of delegations attending in person, and others via a virtual platform.