Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honourable Mark Brantley is in Havana, Cuba to participate in the XXII Association of Caribbean States Ministerial Council scheduled for today, 10th March 2017. Minister Brantley is participating at a time when the ACS is charting a new course for itself which will lead to a process of revitalisation and institutional strengthening. The Ministerial Council was preceded by the First Cooperation Conference which was held on the 8th March 2017. This Conference presented two main projects: “Uniting the Caribbean by Air and Sea” focusing on connectivity and transportation and the “ACS Program to Combat the impact of Climate Change in the Caribbean”. The Conference was designed to achieve the meaningful participation of the Observer States, donor countries as well as international organisations including the United Nations (UN) funds and agencies which were specially invited given their relationship with the Caribbean region and experience in the issues of climate change and transport which were addressed at said Conference. The event was also intended to attract financial resources to the ACS Special Fund.
The Senior Officials Meeting was held on 9th March 2017 in preparation for the Ministerial Council and was attended by the Chargé d’affaires at the Embassy of St. Kitts and Nevis in Havana, Mrs. Verna Mills. The meeting discussed several issues including the reports of the outgoing Chairman of the ACS (Republic of Cuba), the Secretary General, Her Excellency Dr. Jane Soomer, first female Secretary General in the history of the Association; reports from the various ACS Boards and considered the admission of new Observer Countries.
This year marks the 23rd anniversary of the ACS and during the commemorative activities in July 2017, Colombian President José Manuel Santos will be recognised for his outstanding contribution to peace in 2016. The theme selected for the celebration of the anniversary is “ Pursuing Excellence through Peace”
In the margins of the meeting, Honourable Brantley was able to engage the Ambassador of Arab Republic of Egypt to Cuba, His Excellency Atef Mohamed Salem Sayed EL AhL and Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, His Excellency Dawano Kedir Haji to discuss matters of bilateral interest. During the course of the day, the Honourable Minister will also have an audience with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, His Excellency Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla to further discuss areas for cooperation.
The meeting will close with brief remarks from a representative of Venezuela, the incoming Chair of the Ministerial Council.
The Minister will remain in Cuba to attend the V Meeting of Foreign Affairs of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Republic of CUBA which will take place on Saturday, 11th March 2017. The Minister will also meet with some of the St. Kitts and Nevis students based in Havana.