Antigua and Barbuda supports position taken by CARICOM chairman

Antigua and Barbuda has become the latest Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country to support the position taken by CARICOM Chairman and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley in not sending a representative to the announced meeting with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in Jamaica on Tuesday (Jan 21).

Antigua and Barbuda’s Foreign Minister E.P Chet Greene

“We are very much in support of and identify with the sentiments expressed by the CARICOM Chair, PM Motley of Barbados. As a government, we stand in support of this position,” Foreign Minister E.P Chet Greene, said in a statement.

Antigua and Barbuda reiterates its stance on fostering stronger intra-regional relations and common regional approaches to international relations.

Last weekend, Prime Minister Mottley, speaking at a ceremony here to honour the island’s former prime minister and regionalist, the late Errol Barrow, said “as chairman of CARICOM, it is impossible for me to agree that my Foreign Minister should attend a meeting with anyone to which members of CARICOM are not invited. If some are invited and not all, then it is an attempt to divide this region”.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley also issued a statement late Monday, supporting Mottley’s position saying she had the “full support of the government and the people of Trinidad and Tobago in outlining our principles and vision of Caribbean unity.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley

“In the expectation of Caribbean unity, the Prime Minister of Barbados speaks for Trinidad and Tobago,” he added.

Pompeo, who is visiting several countries in Latin America, said his two-day visit to Kingston, will allow meeting with “many Caribbean leaders to discuss how we can all work together to promote our common democratic values and prosperity for all of our people,” adding “I’m looking forward to a fantastic set of meetings”.

Pompeo said he would also participate in a round table with the foreign ministers of Bahamas, Belize, Dominican Republic, Haiti, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Lucia.

Another issue on the table will be the current situation in Venezuela as Washington continues to lead the efforts to remove President Nicolas Maduro from office in the South American country in support of the Opposition Leader Juan Guaido.

At their summit in St. Lucia last July, CARICOM leaders agreed to maintain their position of non-interference and non-intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela and agreed also “that mediation-related activities would be continued to be pursued by the Prime Ministers of St Kitts and Nevis, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago”.

Meanwhile, Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM,  David Comissiong, in support of the position adopted by Bridgetown, said Mottley took the correct position in maintaining that if all CARICOM member of states were not invited, Barbados could not in all good conscience, accept an invitation to attend.

Image result for Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM, David Comissiong
Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM,  David Comissiong (Photo: Caribbean360)

He said Barbados was not showing any animosity or disrespect to anyone, but simply carrying out a leadership duty in the overall best interest of CARICOM.

“Mr Trump pulled this type of stunt last year with his invitation of four specially-selected and invited CARICOM Prime Ministers to Trump’s private property in Florida, much to the chagrin and suspicion of several of the other leaders and Governments of CARICOM. A chagrin and suspicion that actually manifested in several charged public statements,” he said.

“One of the fundamental missions of CARICOM is to deal with powerful third world countries not as the individual Small Island States, but as a unified, collective of 15 nations.”

— Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM, David Comissiong

Comissiong said no one should expect that Barbados, charged with the responsibility for protecting the interests of the organization, to join Pompeo and six American selected CARICOM countries, in repeating an exercise that has already caused unhealthy distress, divisions, suspicions and tensions in the regional organisation.

“And particularly when Mr Pompeo and the US State Department have already made it clear what agenda they will be pursuing in the Caribbean in relation to Luis Almagro/OAS, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, etc,” he said.

Commissiong said “one of the fundamental missions of CARICOM is to deal with powerful third world countries not as the individual Small Island States, but as a unified, collective of 15 nations.

“By doing so, we forge ourselves into a much stronger bargaining unit and are better able to withstand the pressures that many big nations apply when they are conducting their foreign affairs. So we in CARICOM should always strive for unity and collective action,” he added.

St. Kitts-Nevis Foreign Affairs Minister, Mark Brantley said the twin-island Federation does not regard the move by Washington to invite some regional countries to the Kingston meeting as a means of dividing the 15-member regional integration movement.