Roseau, Dominica– May 11, 2010……… Chairman of the 13th Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), Dominica’s Trade Minister, Hon. Dr. John Colin McIntyre has indicated that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is seeking to broaden its relationships with Third Countries and Groups of Countries in response to the new challenges in the international global community.
Dr. McIntyre made the statement at a press conference following the conclusion of the 13th meeting of the COFCOR which was held in Dominica for the first time from May 5-6, 2010.
“We in CARICOM realise we need to position ourselves strategically as to our importance. We are talking about serious bilateral relations and community relations with other regions of the world to embrace us in terms of our trade development programmes and policies and how we can look at mutualism in terms of how we move forward. We are not saying that we are shutting our doors down to the old actors, we are not saying that at all. We are saying that we are broadening our base in terms of the number of actors on the stage right now. This is an evolving world. We speak of the old empires of before and things have changed. Well we are into the era right now that things continue to change and CARICOM is looking at positioning itself in such a manner whereby it can become a region of force and a region that is well respected based on integrity and different matters of cooperation.”
Dr. McIntyre also stated that during the meeting there were lengthy discussions on the effectiveness and better functioning of the COFCOR. He expressed satisfaction on behalf of the COFCOR with the outcome of those discussions.
Representative of the outgoing Chairman of the COFCOR, Jamaica’s Minister of State, Hon. Mrs Malahoo Forte provided some of the highlights of Jamaica’s chairmanship of the COFCOR.
- As Chair of the COFCOR, Jamaica played a key role in facilitating the deepening of CARICOM’s relations with the countries of the hemisphere, including existing partners such as the United States and Canada and with CARICOM’s neighbours to the South. Important meetings also took place with the former Assistant Secretary of State of the United States and meetings with officials from the Dominican Republic.
- During the 39th meeting of the Organisation of American States (OAS) held in July, 2009 in Honduras, Jamaica as Chair of COFCOR, held discussions with the Secretary of State of the United States and the Deputy Foreign Minister of Canada on several important issues to the community. Jamaica was also instrumental in the dialogue which resulted in the adoption of the Resolution which rescinded Cuba’s suspension from the OAS.
- In November last year, Jamaica successfully hosted the first meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Latin America and the Caribbean on Integration and Development (CALC) as well as the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Rio Group.
- On the initiative of Jamaica, Haiti was placed as a major topic on the agenda of the Unity Summit and was discussed at a retreat of Heads of State and Government. Arising from those discussions, some US$25 million was pledged to Haiti for emergency support for tents and other forms of temporary shelter.
- Jamaica also played an active role in the immediate aftermath of the devastating earthquake which took place in Haiti by spearheading CARICOM’s response to the crisis, in particular through the deployment of military and medical personnel.
The growing importance of CARICOM in world affairs was evident by the number of countries that sent representatives to engage participants at the 13th COFCOR meeting in Roseau. These countries included Australia, Luxembourg, Portugal and Kosovo.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, Hon. Stephen Smith addressed the COFCOR, a sign of Australia’s growing interest in the Caribbean.
The Council of Foreign and Community Relations consists of Ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs of Member States.