In a significant milestone for the region, the French-governed island of Guadeloupe is now part the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) as an associate member.
Although Basse-Terre is Guadeloupe’s administrative capital, the historic event was made official in Pointe-à-Pitre.
“This means well for us …we have had a common history; a history of colonialism and slavery and we have similar cultures and we have even had cultural exchanges over the decades,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne said on POINT FM over the weekend.
The meeting for this accession agreement was held last week Thursday and it came about two years after a report commissioned by the government of St. Lucia urging OECS integration for both Guadeloupe and Martinique.
Browne says the move will foster better cooperation between Guadeloupe and other OECS members, while promoting unity and solidarity among members of the regional grouping.
However, the new agreement places a few restrictions on the French neighbouring island. For example, they will not be part of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank or the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.
He further added that the government is currently in discussions with the government of Guadeloupe to foster a greater movement of people between both countries.
“We have commenced discussion about having a ferry service between Antigua and Barbuda and Guadeloupe, and to see how we can have a cooperation agreement that will facilitate greater movement of people and at the same time to increase trade between both our countries,” he said.
The OECS is now an eleven-member grouping of islands spread across the Eastern Caribbean.
Together, they form a near-continuous archipelago across the eastern reaches of the Caribbean Sea.
The seven founding members of the OECS that enjoy full membership are Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Anguilla, The British Virgin Islands, Martinique and now Guadeloupe, are associate members, but are treated as full members for many of the Organisation’s activities.
Meanwhile, St. Martin is a non-member with observer status; that is, they can participate in the organisation’s activities with no voting privileges.