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PM Gonsalves dismisses the idea of an expanded OECS

PM Gonsalves dismisses the idea of an expanded OECS

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To ask Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados to join the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is tantamount to suggesting that a commercial bank should join the enterprise of a snow-cone vendor- impractical and undesirable!{{more}}

This is according to Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who earlier this week, fresh from his official visit to the landlocked, Central European country, Austria, dismissed the idea of an expanded OECS, to include oil-rich Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados.

Speaking at a press briefing, Dr Gonsalves said that while increased functional cooperation is desirable, if Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados join the OECS, it will change the very nature of the organization.

The idea of the expanded OECS was raised by St Lucia Prime Minister Stephenson King, who himself was commenting on plans by Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada to explore a political union.

King said that he viewed any other union as another layer, another institution, in the region.

“If it’s going to be another layer, another institution, I think what should happen is for Trinidad and Barbados to come in and strengthen the OECS as a sub-region of Caricom,” Prime Minister King is quoted as saying in a BBC Caribbean report.

“If they were to join the OECS, the whole character and nature of the OECS will change…I don’t think that is practical. I don’t know whether it is desirable to dilute the tightness of the OECS, what we have now,’ Dr Gonsalves, however, said on Monday.

“I am not so sure, whatever the good nature of my friend Stephenson King, that it is a proposal steeped in reasonable practicality,” Dr Gonsalves, however, said of King’s idea.

Dr Gonsalves said that as Barbados does in the Regional Security Services (RSS), he welcomes a more involved role in security issues by Trinidad and Tobago, saying that for a start Trinidad and Tobago can increase its linkage with the RSS.

He also said that the area of maritime delimitation is another area of cooperation between Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and the OECS that could be addressed.

Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit is, however, on record as saying that the idea of an expanded OECS has merit. He, however, said he would prefer to see the issue taken up by the Secretariat of the OECS.(KJ)

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