The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) formally welcomed Guadeloupe, an overseas department of France, as an associate member of the Organisation at a meeting held in Basse Terre, on Thursday.
Newly elected British Virgin Islands premier, Andrew Fahie, was also welcomed at his first OECS engagement, delivering a passionate address to member states.
OECS chairman and prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, noted the accession of the French territory adds tremendously not only to the land and sea space but to the economic potential of the regional grouping, but in furtherance of the deepening and broadening of the regional integration of small Eastern Caribbean islands.
“The enlargement of the OECS, with the accession of Guadeloupe to associate membership, opens up tremendous possibilities not merely to survive but to thrive more markedly across the arenas of economy, society, culture and polity.
On behalf of all Guadeloupeans, President Chalus said that the accession to the OECS was a historic moment in the life of the territory, is an expression of the new levels of collaboration that Guadeloupe as an associate member of the OECS could look forward to, included functional cooperation such as the INTERREG III program which was delivering solid development outcomes for the Eastern Caribbean.
“The program contributes to the integration of the Caribbean space and responds to the aspiration of our populations and our accession will seek to deepen this cooperation and outcomes. We share a unity of destiny; island economies, territories vulnerable to climate change and facing the same challenges in terms of energy supply.
“Guadeloupe is determined to contribute to the vision, shared by all of you here, in which the promotion of the green and blue economy is put forward to make the space of the Lesser Antilles, the world reference in sustainable territories.
“The triple Caribbean, French and European membership must be approached pragmatically because, like Martinique and the French part of Saint-Martin, it offers Guadeloupe real opportunities for its development while nourishing the contribution it intends to make within the OECS.
“Shared education, training, health and realisation of our natural heritage and biodiversity strengthens our Territories’ capacities to respond to environmental challenges, improving public services and the resilience of populations to major natural hazards.
“Between the literary greats of Derek Walcott and Edouard Glissant, there is a unity of vision between our people and a shared culture that is our point of convergence connecting the genius of each of our territories and without which we would be mere dust in the wind,” President Chalus said.
OECS states comprise countries of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Martinique and now, Guadeloupe.