Press release 68/2002
(17 May 2002)



CARICOM Heads of Government have concluded a new round of talks in two Summits held 16 and 17 May 2002 respectively.

On Thursday 16 May, CARICOM Heads of Government met with their Spanish counterpart, H.E. Jose Maria Aznar in the Second CARICOM-Spain Summit as a follow-up to their First Meeting, which was held in Port-of-Spain in July 1999. At that First Meeting, CARICOM-Spain relations were put on a firm footing with the signature of the Scientific and Technical Cooperation Agreement between the Caribbean Community and the Kingdom of Spain.

In their most recent discussions, Caribbean leaders, and the Spanish Prime Minister assessed the achievements under the Agreement to date. They identified priorities for future cooperation and sought to broaden the relations by exploring the possibility of Spain's Membership in the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). They also agreed to establish a Joint Commission to pursue the implementation of CARlCOM-Spain Cooperation. The Commission is expected to host their first Meeting before the end of this year.

At their Meeting on Friday 17 May 2002, the President of the Dominican Republic joined CARICOM leaders and the Vice-President of Cuba in the Second EU-LAC Summit hosted under the guidance of the Prime Minister of Spain, current President of the European Union.

This Summit follows three years since the first was one held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in July 1999.

Friday's Summit was held under the theme "Advancing the Strategic Bi-Regional Partnership in the 21st Century". Discussions took place in three major areas - Cultural, Political and Economic. Belize and Suriname made representation on behalf of the Caribbean in the area of culture while Guyana and Haiti spoke to the political issues. The Prime Minister of Jamaica, at the invitation of the Prime Minister of Spain made a formal statement on the subject of International Cooperation for Sustainable Development and Financing for Development to lead off the Summit discussions on Economic Issues. The Prime Minister of Barbados spoke to the issue of the need to reform the international financial architecture and strongly warned against resort by any state to unilateral measures, which could further distort international agricultural trade. The President of the Dominican Republic spoke of the need for the European Union to open their markets for agricultural products, thereby providing greater access opportunities for regional suppliers.

The Caribbean leaders used the opportunity provided by the Summit to sensitise their Latin American and European partners to their vision for the Region in the EU-LAC bi-regional relationship and in the new globalised environment.

Among the issues of particular interest to the Caribbean were the need for the interests of small developing countries to be taken into account by the international community; the necessity for practical effect to be given to special and differential treatment in the multilateral trading environment agreed to at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha; support for their efforts to achieve sustainable development; through inter alia development of sustainable tourism (including eco-tourism, increased foreign direct investment); the need for orderly development and restructuring of the global financial system, and the continued importance of debt relief.

Caribbean leaders also underlined the necessity for continued support in the effort to break the cycle of poverty (without which no real development would be possible, let alone sustainable) the importance of the fight against HIV AIDS and the need for continued cooperation in the promotion of preparedness for natural disasters and the mitigation of their consequences.

The leaders also informed the Meeting of the situation regarding the trafficking of illegal drugs and associated crimes in the Region, their corrosive effect on the fabric of the regional society, and of the joint efforts being made to combat this scourge.

They reiterated their commitment to the fight against terrorism in all its forms, warned that the threats to democracy comes from many sides including civil society itself, and pressed the need for resources to give practical effect to the many undertakings in support of democracy, rule of law and the observance of human rights.

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