CARICOM Foreign Ministers were reminded of the importance of regional foreign policy coordination in the current uncertain times, as they opened the 23rd Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) via videoconference, Wednesday.
CARICOM Secretariat’s Assistant Secretary-General, Ambassador Colin Granderson in reminding the meeting of the global health, social and economic crisis in the form of the novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, noted that the unity of the Region is being put to the test in a very crucial way. The fast approaching 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season also looms large, he added.
“The climate experts forecast that the 2020 season will be above average in the number and magnitude of the predicted hurricanes. These twin threats will certainly test the resilience of our Community,” he stated in remarks delivered on behalf of Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.
Ambassador Granderson urged CARICOM Foreign Ministers to speak “with one voice” as they continually and actively engage with international development partners. Of significance in this regard, he said, was action required to advance the initiative undertaken by the Chair of CARICOM, Prime Minister the Hon. Mia Mottley of Barbados, who has written to global leaders and financial institutions seeking their support for CARICOM’s position on access to concessional financing based on vulnerability and not on GDP per capita.
Ambassador Granderson said the Community welcomes support from countries like the UK and the US, and others like the Kingdom of Norway which have supported CARICOM’s efforts to keep issues of importance to it on the international agenda where it is not represented.
“Issues such as climate change and the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been raised at the Joint Ministerial Committee of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank and the IMF in Oslo in April by Norway’s Minister of International Development. We look forward to exploring further co-operation when we interface with the Foreign Minister of Norway, Her Excellency Ine Eriksen Søreide, during this meeting,” Ambassador Granderson stated.
“A weakened multilateral system, and the impulse of individual countries to rush to look inwards during these unprecedented times, are all the more reason for the Community to continue to reach out to its existing partners while expanding its relations with new partners,” Ambassador Granderson added.
The meeting was chaired by His Excellency Dr. Claude Joseph, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Haiti.