Foreign Affairs Minister rejects opposition’s claim of being deliberately left out of SIDS4 conference

Trade Minister Chet Greene
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By Robert Andre Emmanuel

[email protected]

Minister of Foreign Affairs EP Chet Greene is rejecting the opposition United Progressive Party’s (UPP’s) assertion that they were deliberately excluded from the SIDS4 conference.

Last week, the UPP along with a number of Barbudans staged a protest outside the VC Bird International Airport against what they considered was the ruling administration’s attack on the environment and Barbudan lands.

They claimed that they were not invited to be part of the discussions at the American University of America, where the conference was being held, effectively preventing their voices from being heard.

However, during an interview on Observer AM yesterday, Minister Greene pushed back on that claim.

“The SIDS conference is not a matter of political activism; it is neither for political parties to strut their stuff. It was a moment for the nation of Antigua and Barbuda, like all the other nations that came to this country, to present themselves at this international forum.

“In the case of the Barbuda Council, it was Councilman Mussington who represented himself to Senator Knacyntar Nedd-Charles, asking for the Council to be registered as a separate entity,” Minister Greene articulated.

He said that the proposal was not acceptable to him as he felt it would showcase a divided Antigua and Barbuda.

“What we said to Councilman Mussington is that members of the council would always register at Foreign Affairs but to register Barbuda as a separate entity from Antigua is a no-no … you walk to the conference hall, and you saw name tags for Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda.

“Why would we for a meeting anywhere in the world, more so at home, separate the national delegation? And so the invite was extended to the members of the Council to register—not a single one of them registered,” Minister Greene said.

Some Barbudans said that they should have been allowed to present their own experiences at the conference, noting the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, however, the Foreign Minister, who also serves as Barbuda Affairs Minister, said that his address at the plenary discussion included the Barbudan experience.

Sources for the organising committee told Observer media last week that the UPP was invited to attend the conference but did not respond to registration requests – claims which were repeated by the Foreign Minister.

“And on the question of the UPP, the Leader of Opposition Jamale Pringle was called by my Permanent Secretary, Anthony Liverpool, and was asked to send the information for himself plus one member of the UPP to attend the opening ceremony and again, there was no response.

“He could not attend because he did not register, and he was invited to register … this was a UN meeting hosted by Antigua and Barbuda; it was not an Antigua Barbuda meeting—all the standards of UN meetings applied,” Minister Greene reiterated.

The comments from Minister Greene came amidst a reflection of the SIDS4 conference which saw member nations adopt the Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS (ABAS), and also the launch of a Centre of Excellence.

“I believe that there is greater awareness in Antigua and Barbuda of what SIDS is, the ABAS and what are the next steps because that’s very important. As Ambassador Webson, Prime Minister Browne and I would have said, the work really begins now.

“What is interesting about this Centre of Excellence to me is the data hub because it proved through several studies that SIDS countries lack technological advancement and so to have a data hub, it means that we are now prepared to bring technology and science into the realm of planning and the management of our respective economies,” he said.

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