The two-day session brought together the Caribbean state members as well as some guests, such as the Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to discuss unity in the region.
St. Kitts Prime Minister Timothy Harris said the region ought to unite it unique resources and diverse demographics to bring growth, prosperity and equity to the Caribbean nations.
Mechanism already in place, such as the Revised Treaty (which caters to disadvantaged countries, regions, and sectors) and the Caribbean Development Fund (CDF) “are interventions designed to address imbalances of size and scale, as well as promote equitable and inclusive growth across the CSME, which would guarantee a shared and universal prosperity for all,” Harris said.
“Our Revised Treaty, Esteemed Colleagues, is visionary and robust enough to have specified these provisions; the question is whether our politics is pragmatic and visionary enough in its regional embrace to effectively utilize them,” the prime minister added.
Santa Lucia Prime Minister and Caricom Chairperson Allen Chastanet agreed, urging leaders to employ serious introspection and actions to inspire Caribbean people and bold, creative, and unified stances on international issues, and "to secure our mere existence,” Chastanet said.
“The world, now more than ever, continues to see us as one region. Our individual size requires us to act as one, yet we only talk, holding on to our individual sovereignty. History has shown that when we join hands we only get stronger. Our survival, our obligations to our citizens, our legacy, all require that we take the necessary action,” emphasized the chairman.
The European Union’s decision to blacklist specific Caribbean countries for illicit offshore financial services that has enabled tax evasion was one of the main concerns.
International interference in neighboring Venezuela was another.
Harris told the delegation that after much consideration and consultation with U.N. Secretary-General Guterres, Caricom has decided to adopt an attitude of non-interference in Venezuela.
“We have consistently argued that the cardinal principles to undergird a resolution of the political crisis in Venezuela include: (1) noninterference in the internal affairs of Venezuela, (2) inviolability of the Sovereign State, (3) respect for democracy, rule of law and the constitution of Venezuela, (4) peace and resolution of conflict. The Montevideo Mechanism provides a guide to achieve peaceful resolution. Its core imperatives are: Dialogue, Negotiation, Commitment, Implementation,” Harris said.
The Prime Minister continued: “For Caricom, non-interference and non-intervention in the internal affairs of states, prohibition of the threat and use of force, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, respect for the constitutional framework and democracy, and the right of people to self-determination are core principles, which should not be violated.
“These are what we have to cling to in a world where international law and multilateralism are being undermined and small states are being increasingly marginalised. And despite whatever apparent differences appear in the ranks of CARICOM, I can assert that we ALL subscribe to these principles,” Harris said.
He commended Norway for mediating negotiations between the Venezuelan government and the nation's opposition. The second round of talks in Oslo were confirmed in May. Earlier this week, Bolivarian President Nicolas Maduro revealed he will soon be announcing “good news” on dialogue developments.