Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 03, 2017 (SKNIS): Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and outgoing Chairman of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Authority, said that St. Kitts and Nevis has demonstrated commitment to regional integration over the years and as such, the federation is properly suited to host the 64th Meeting of the OECS Authority.
Delivering the featured address at the opening ceremony on Friday, March 03, Dr. Harris said that St. Kitts and Nevis is the home of sub-regional integration. He recalled the signing of the Treaty of Basseterre, which gave life to the OECS and the Revised Treaty of Basseterre, which graduated all Member States to a single economic union.
“It has provided a single space for our region and for our people to grow and develop, utilizing the collective resources of our sub-region for mutual development without discrimination and account of the member state in which we were born,” said Prime Minister Harris, while adding that St. Kitts and Nevis has demonstrated its commitment to integration throughout the years. “The proud tradition of the commitment to regionalism lives on my administration which came together in unity. Our legacy will not only be that we are unified across political parties and defied the parochialism of each island to create a more prosperous St. Kitts and Nevis with a fair share for all.”
The chairman said that the meeting is timely, as it paves the way for meaningful discussions as it relates to all Member States to deal with present challenges.
“This 64th Meeting of the OECS Authority is being convened at a time of major preoccupation for a lot of us. It is happening against the backdrop of global developments that have as their hallmark uncertainties and challenges that are threatening to reverse the gains that have accrued to our benefit over the last decades,” said Dr. Harris. “In Europe, for example, there was the unprecedented decision of the people of the United Kingdom to exit the European Union (EU). There is now the renewed vigor of nationalist sentiments in France, in Middle Europe and elsewhere, and the efforts at internal consolidation of the European Union as a result of these upsurges. We are concerned too with accessing the implications of these developments.”
He noted that although the challenges presently faced by the Member States are exhaustive, there is the need to work closer for the greater good.
“There is need, particularly at this time, for a renewed commitment to the cause of regionalism. The cause of the OECS and its Economic Union requires renewed and vigorous promotion, both to the people of the region and beyond,” he said. “In this regard, a critically important role, which we must necessarily assume as leaders is the promotion of the logic and wisdom of deepening the process of integration – the promotion of the notion that the challenges and difficulties of our time can only be surmounted by combined effort, or through greater community of posture and of action. There is much that can be done in this connection.”
Prime Minister Harris said that there is also much work yet to be done in respect of the integration project itself. He noted that it is his view that all Member States redouble their efforts to further and speed up the process of integration.
Dr. Harris said that the Heads of Government present at the meeting are required to focus their attention on a wide array of matters including but not limited to health, and in particular, health insurance; the special interests of Non-Independent and Associate Member States; arrangements for external representation; applications for membership of the Organisation; civil aviation/air services; agriculture and support services including regional transport; the Blue Economy; climate change and sustainable land management; security; and sustainable financing.