Fernandez calls for closer OECS foreign policy harmonisation

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The Honourable Charles “Max” Fernandez, Minister of Foreign Affairs, has urged the OECS sub-regional grouping to prioritise foreign policy coordination and harmonization.
He made the call at the third meeting of the OECS Council of Ministers, where he assumed the annual rotating chairmanship of the OECS Council, on behalf of Antigua and Barbuda. Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) also attended the meeting, which was held on May 17, 2017, in Bridgetown, Barbados.
“Despite the achievements made thus far, we are acutely aware that there are aspects of the OECS integration movement that have not yet been fully exploited. One of these aspects is foreign policy harmonisation, which is not just critical, but necessary to navigate the turbulent waters of the 21st century,” Fernandez said.
Calling attention to the unique plight of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the minister highlighted that in the absence of coordination and harmonisation, “each of us stands alone”. He further stated: “In multilateral fora, such as the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), all member states have equal voting rights. However, while the global playing field may be getting more level, it is still incredibly uneven.”
 In underscoring the challenge facing the OECS grouping, Fernandez said, “At the end of the day, we cannot afford to be complacent. As Small Island Developing States (SIDS), we need the world more than the world needs us. The ability to coordinate positions as a grouping rather than on an individual basis would amplify our voices six-fold, thus allowing us to more easily achieve more positive outcomes.”
During the meeting, the OECS Foreign Ministers exchanged views on several international relations issues.
The Third Meeting of the OECS Council of the Ministers (Foreign Affairs) precedes the Twentieth Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), which will be attended by Minister Fernandez, as well as Foreign Ministers from across the wider Caribbean Community (CARICOM) region.

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