Nassau, The Bahamas (6th May 2018) – The Hon. Mark Brantley is currently in the Bahamas in his capacity as Minister of Foreign Affairs, representing the Federation in two regional meetings: -The Fourth OECS Council of Ministers (Foreign Affairs) (COMFA) Meeting and the Twenty-First Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) on 6 May 2018 and from 7-8 May 2018, respectively.
The Opening Ceremony got on the way early Sunday morning with opening remarks by H.E. Anthony Severin, Head of the International Relations Unit at the OECS Commission. He commended Antigua and Barbuda for its leadership during its tenure and pledged support to the Incoming Chair, The Commonwealth of Dominica. Ambassador Anthony Liverpool, representing his Minister of Foreign Affairs, expressed that during his country’s chairmanship, they experienced many challenges, including climatic, but that the resilience of their people will serve as a model for the rest of the region and the world in general.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of The Commonwealth of Dominica also made remarks as the Incoming Chair and highlighted the geopolitical difficulties in the North, Latin America and in Europe. She used the opportunity to call for unity of purpose in the region and that States should be proactive when crafting their national plans.
In an early intervention, Minister Brantley highlighted the need for the OECS to develop new friendships with European countries, even non traditional partners from Eastern Europe, to give the OECS and wider Caribbean a voice in the European Union, as the region loses the powerful voice and advocacy of the United Kingdom post Brexit.
The Hon. Minister Brantley is joined at the OECS Meeting by his colleague Ministers of Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Hon. Peter David and the Hon. Louis Straker. Matters that require the attention of the Ministers include implications of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union for the OECS, key developments in the European theatre, new membership of the OECS, establishment of proposal for the institution of common systems in the area of Foreign Service Orders and Diplomatic Protocol. The Meeting will also consider the agenda of the Twenty-First Meeting of the COFCOR, with which the Ministers will be engaged over the upcoming two days.
The OECS Agreement was signed on 18th June 1981. It became known as the Treaty of Basseterre, in honour of the capital city of St. Kitts and Nevis where it was signed. Today, the OECS has ten members comprising Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and The Grenadines, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Martinique. The last country to accede to membership was Martinique in February 2015.