BASSE-TERRE, Guadeloupe, Monday March 18, 2019 – Guadeloupe has formally joined the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
The overseas department of France officially joined the grouping as an associate member at a ceremony last Thursday, during a special summit which it hosted.
It is the second in the French-speaking Caribbean island to join the OECS, the first being Martinique. The other OECS member states are Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, the British Virgin Islands, and Anguilla.
OECS Chairman and Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves said the accession of the French territory was a momentous occasion in the life of the OECS and in furtherance of the deepening and broadening of the regional integration of small Eastern Caribbean islands.
“The enlargement of the OECS, with the accession of Guadeloupe to associate membership, opens up tremendous possibilities not merely to survive but to thrive more markedly across the arenas of economy, society, culture, and polity,” he said.
“While centuries of European colonial rivalries in the Caribbean have contributed to the fracturing of our countries in differing linguistic groups and a contrived island separateness, it is these contradictions and separations which are the very seeds which pre-dispose our territories to a greater and more perfect union.”
President of the Territorial Council of Guadeloupe Ary Chalus said the accession was a historic moment in the life of the territory, adding that “regional cooperation is not an accessory”.
“We think it inseparable from political action and it’s even more natural that we share more than a geographical proximity. Shared education, training, health and realisation of our natural heritage and biodiversity strengthens our territories’ capacities to respond to environmental challenges, improving public services and the resilience of populations to major natural hazards.
“Our people are united by nature; mutual aid has always been at the heart of our societies and it is in this sense that we must think and act. Guadeloupe shares a strong community of interest with OECS Member States and we enthusiastically embrace our membership to the organisation,” he said.