MemberPress ReleasesSt. Kitts and Nevis


(CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana) The people of Nevis, a part of the Federation of St.Kitts/Nevis, have a right to self-determination, but the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Mr. Edwin Carrington says they should at least have the maximum information on the pros and cons of secession before voting in a referendum on 10 August, 1998.

Speaking to journalists at the Secretariat’s Headquarters in Georgetown just one week before a referendum to decide the constitutional future of the Federation of St.Kitts/Nevis, Mr. Carrington stressed the need for “all possible options to be brought to the attention of the government and people of Nevis, so that their choice can be as informed as possible.” He equally emphasized that consultations and recommendations on secession to the populace would be “without fettering their constitutional right to decide which way they wish to go.” A report on the constitutional alternatives for addressing the concerns raised by the Nevis administration has been completed by a three-man Constitution Commission comprising Sir Fred Phillips, former Governor of St.Kitts and Nevis, Mr.Reginald Dumas, former ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago to Washington and Head of the Public Service, and Dr. Kenneth Rattray, Solicitor-General of Jamaica. It will be “a travesty”Mr. Carrington said, if the people of Nevis vote in a referendum before considering this report.

The Secretary-General reiterated the concern earlier expressed by Regional Heads of Government that any fragmentation, especially at this time when CARICOM is solidifying its unity in the face of economic-bloc formation, would be a “sad blow to the spirit of regionalism.” Recollecting fond memories of interaction in Nevis, Mr. Carrington expressed the hope that the integrity of the State of St.Kitts/Nevis will be maintained, and recalled personal interaction with the Premier of Nevis in an attempt to find alternatives to secession. The Secretary-General opined that given its size, the cost of sustaining a sovereign state can be burdensome especially given other complexities of “undue influence by agents and forces which are not necessarily supportive of the interests of your country or Region.”

The issue regarding the island’s secession was also a matter of concern at the United Nations where the Secretary-General attended a meeting recently. He reported that a number of people were expressing concern for St.Kitts/Nevis, already the smallest state in the western hemisphere, because of the dangers faced by small states in today’s world. It was also pointed out that the United States Department of State was fully supportive of CARICOM’s position.

A statement by the Department said that “maintaining the Federation (of St. Kitts/Nevis) would be more compatible with the trend to greater regional integration, with all its considerable benefits and advantages.”

Mr. Carrington also responded to a complaint by the Premier of Nevis who reported that he was not invited to a recent meeting in Jamaica, and this represents an insult to the people of the island…, and “does not bode well for CARICOM brotherhood and integration.” The Secretary-General said the Premier must have been misinformed about the nature of the meeting adding that it was purely a CARICOM Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee meeting dealing with external negotiations. This meeting, he said, is usually attended by its members comprising representatives from Saint Lucia, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados.

With regard to the Guyana political situation, Mr. Carrington said the current Chairman of CARICOM Dr.the Hon. Kenny Anthony, along with the Secretariat, is working on the Terms of Reference for the Facilitator, appointed under the terms of the Saint Lucia Statement, Mr. Maurice King. The Statement was signed at the recent 19th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government in Saint Lucia by the Chairman of CARICOM, and the leaders of the two main political parties in Guyana. He said that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has guaranteed up to US$100,000 for the financing of this process.

The CARICOM Secretary-General took the opportunity to outline the agenda for the upcoming historic meeting in Santo Domingo of the Community’s Heads of Government, and the President of the Dominican Republic. Secretary-General Carrington pointed out that it is the first time Regional leaders will have a Summit outside of the English-speaking Caribbean. While there, from 20-22 August 1998, to observe the 500th anniversary of the city of Santo Domingo, the leaders will address matters including a common approach to post-Lome negotiations with the European Union which will be launched on 30 September 1998. Other matters for discussion relate to the Free Trade Area of the Americas, a plan for CARICOM/Central America Strategic Alliance, and a summit between leaders of the European Union , CARICOM, Latin America, and the wider Caribbean scheduled for Brazil in 1999. A trade agreement between CARICOM and the Dominican Republic is likely to be signed during the period as the two sides seek to bond a closer economic and trade relationship.

Journalists also witnessed the handing over of commemorative stamps from several countries in the Region by Guyana’s Post Master-General Mr. Edward Noble to the Secretary-General on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of CARICOM. Making the presentation on behalf of the Caribbean Postal Union, Mr. Noble said it was a tribute to the role the Community has played in the establishment of the Union. The six postal administrations which have released, and will be releasing stamps are Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Lucia. Postage stamps of the 25th anniversary logo were also presented to the Secretary-General.

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