The prime minister’s comments follow similar statements made by Premier of Nevis and Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Mark Brantley in response to a letter sent to the European Union (EU) Commission and the President of the European Council by two Members of the European Parliament, Ana Gomes and Marietje Schaake, calling for punitive actions regarding the visa-free access Kittitians and Nevisians currently enjoy with the European Union.
The EU’s concern stems from the recent discovery that Russian national Andrei Pavlov, who was blacklisted since 2014, had visited the EU 70 times over the past four years. An article written by Juliette Garside and published in UK-based Guardian newspaper on Friday, May 24, 2019, sought to suggest that Mr. Pavlov had taken steps to obtain economic citizenship from St. Kitts-Nevis.
Speaking at his press conference at the Parliamentary Lounge, Prime Minister Harris expressed his disappointment in the two Members of the European Parliament for issuing such a damning letter “without a scintilla of evidence of any wrong doing by anyone in our programme.”
“It is not a good reflection of the reliability and seriousness of members of the European Parliament, that they should seek punitive action against any entity without giving the accused the benefit of due process and natural justice and without regard for the consequences of their ill-informed letter not just for the viability of our programme but also for the wider Caribbean,” Dr. Harris said.
Prime Minister Harris said the letter by Gomes and Schaake cited a number of “misdeeds of the former Douglas regime,” not taking into account the various reform measures implemented since the advent of the Team Unity administration.
“My government is satisfied that the significant reforms which we have made to the CBI programme since coming to office, our high level of cooperation with our international partners and the excellent quality of our due diligence system have transformed our programme into an international leader amongst all programmes,” the honourable prime minister stated, while noting that his Government “will continue to be a very responsible and reliable member of the international community.”
The St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister also called for an immediate retraction of the letter and for the issuance of an apology to the people of the twin island Federation.