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PM: No snubbing of OECS, CARICOM obligations


There will be no snubbing of existing treaty obligations with the OECS and CARICOM by this Country while it explores a closer relationship with Venezuela, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves explained in parliament recently.

Responding to a question asked by Opposition Leader, Arhnim Eustace, Dr Gonsalves said that no ALBA memorandum had been signed.{{more}}

“What were signed were some agreements of cooperation and a joint statement by the Prime Ministers of Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, St Vincent and The Grenadines and the President of the Bolivian Republic of Venezuela.”

Dr Gonsalves said that there is a difference between the principles of ALBA (The Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America) and the structures thereof; which he compared to the Caribbean Integration Movement.

“Caricom rests on three and now four pillars, functional cooperation in a range of different areas, economic integration including trade, coordination of foreign policy, and recently in St Vincent and the Grenadines it was adopted that security should be the fourth pillar of Caricom,” he explained.

He said that his Government has been prudent when entering into bilateral agreements and stressed that neither military nor intelligence sharing agreements existed between St Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela.

Dr Gonsalves said that the Government had signed agreements as regards PetroCaribe and scholarships. He explained that according to the latter agreement, 77 Vincentians would be on scholarships in Venezuela by next year.

Venezuela is also a significant partner in the US$ 200 million Argyle International Airport Project.

Dr Gonsalves said that while ALBA allows for a wide ranging relationship, which other countries have entered into with Venezuela, St Vincent and the Grenadines will stay within the areas of functional cooperation and deepening of the integration “for our people.”

“I am hopeful that we would have some cooperation with Venezuela in relation to disaster management and preparedness as we are proceeding to have with Cuba,” Dr Gonsalves said.

A two-man delegation from the Civil Defense Ministry in Cuba visited last week. They evaluated the National System for disaster management and made recommendations.

Dr Gonsalves said that his Government was developing a multiplicity of relationships in order to capably address the Country’s external environment “in the interest of our people’s humanization.”

Opposition Leader, Arhnim Eustace had said in a recent interview that if he assumes the leadership of the Country, that there is no guarantee that the agreements signed will be honoured.