July 3rd, 2019 -- Two distinguished guests in the persons of the Prime Minister of Norway, Her Excellency Erna Solberg and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, His Excellency António Manuel Guterres graced the opening ceremony of the 40th Regular Meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government today, Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019, in Saint Lucia.
The opening ceremony was held this afternoon at the Royalton Saint Lucia Resort ahead of the 40th Regular Meeting, which is scheduled to take place at the Sandals Grande Saint Lucian Resort on July 4th and 5th. The Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, the Honourable Allen Chastanet will chair the meeting.
Delivering his remarks at today’s opening ceremony as outgoing Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris mentioned the apparently "historic" presence of Norway’s Prime Minister. "I am advised that you are the first Head of Government of the Nordic countries to interact with your CARICOM counterparts,” Dr. Harris said.
Prime Minister Harris also commended the Norwegian Prime Minister for her advocacy on climate change. Prime Minister Solberg of Norway co-chairs the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy along with the President of the Republic of Palau, His Excellency Tommy Esang Remengesau, Jr. It was established in September 2018.
The High Level Panel consists of 12 Heads of Government from Australia, Chile, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Jamaica (a member of CARICOM), Japan, Mexico, Namibia, Norway, Palau and Portugal. The UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, His Excellency Peter Thomson is also a member.
With regard to the UN Secretary-General, Prime Minister Harris said Mr. Guterres continues to be “a reliable friend” to the Caribbean region. The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis added: “That was demonstrated by your visit to the affected states after the Hurricanes of 2017 and your continued advocacy with respect to the effects of climate change, which is an existential threat to our Community.”
In January, Prime Minister Harris led a high-level CARICOM delegation to the United Nations headquarters in New York to engage in shuttle diplomacy concerning the political crisis in Venezuela. Under his able leadership, the productive mission resulted in Secretary-General Guterres urging the involvement of the UN in the pursuit of a peaceful resolution.
During his remarks today, the outgoing Chairman of CARICOM also commended the Norwegian Government for its efforts “to bring the two sides [in Venezuela] together in an attempt to end the impasse and allow the country to return to stability.”
Prime Minister Harris said, “We must make clear that CARICOM plays a role of honest broker” in advancing dialogue and negotiations in Venezuela. “All stakes are high,” Dr. Harris added.
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