UNESCO World Heritage Site of La Antigua, Guatemala meeting of Minsters

The designated UNESCO World Heritage Site of La Antigua, Guatemala welcomed Regional Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Vice Ministers, Ambassadors and International Organizations as the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) convened its XX Ordinary Meeting of the Ministerial Council on March 10th, 2015. The Meeting which was preceded by a Preparatory Session is held annually by the Ministerial Council, the main governing body of the Association consisting of Ministers and Representatives of the Member States.

The Meeting received high level representation, as Ministers and Secretaries of Foreign Affairs of the following countries participated. They include: the Honourable Wilfred Peter Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belize; the Honourable Maria Ángela Olguín, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia; the Honourable Bruno Rodriguez, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba; the Honourable Francine Baron, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Commonwealth of Dominica and CARICOM Affairs; the Honourable Andrés Navarro García, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic; the Honourable Hugo Roger Martinez Bonilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador; the Honourable Pierre Duly Brutus, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Haiti; the Honourable Arturo Corrales Álvarez, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Honduras and the Honourable Mario Kubrieña Meade, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico.

The Honourable Carlos Raúl Morales Moscoso, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala and current Chairman of the Ministerial Council inaugurated the Meeting’s proceedings. In his opening remarks, he stated that Guatemala seeks to consolidate the region allowing our countries to achieve economic development. He further posited that he expects trade flows with the Caribbean to increase through sugar investments in the Dominican Republic and trade agreements in Trinidad and Tobago.

H.E. Alfonso Múnera, Secretary General of the ACS in his opening remarks, acknowledged the Chairmanship of Guatemala. He stated, “We would like to recognise the success we have had throughout the leadership of Guatemala.” He predicted that the day’s proceedings would be historic considering the items tabled for discussion.

The main highlight of the Meeting was the unanimous support for the increase of the Association’s Ordinary Budget, for the first time in twenty years. There was general consensus that the Association has produced concrete results which redound to the benefit of Member Countries. Several delegations lauded the Secretary General for his decisive leadership, which has strengthened the position of the Association within the Greater Caribbean.

Among the principal activities of the Meeting was the adoption of the report of the Chairman of the Ministerial Council as well as that of the Secretary General. H.E. Múnera, in his report highlighted the significant achievements produced by the ACS Secretariat including the advances that the Directorates of Trade Development and External Economic Relations, Transport, Sustainable Tourism and Disaster Risk Reduction have made in relation to their Work Plan and the Plan of Action of Petión Ville, adopted during the V ACS Summit of Heads of State and/or Government. During his presentation of this report, the Secretary General disclosed that the Secretariat has achieved over eighty per cent of the mandates set out in the Plan of Action.

Also considered by the Ministerial Council, was the application of the French Overseas Territory of St. Martin to represent itself as an Associate Member in its own right.

The Meeting facilitated the appointment of the new Chair of the Ministerial Council for the period 2015-2016, a position which is now assumed by the Republic of Haiti. The Chairs of the Special Committees are as follows: Transport, Cuba; Sustainable Tourism, Guatemala; Trade Development and External Economic Relations, Colombia; Disaster Risk Reduction, Mexico and the Budget and Administration, Haiti. The chairmanship of the Council of the Nation Representatives of the Special Fund and the Caribbean Sea Commission are assumed by Guadeloupe and the Dominican Republic respectively.

Representatives from Observer Countries as well as other regional organisations were in attendance.

In his closing remarks, the Secretary General posited that the Meeting bore fruitful results as the ACS received full support and participation from Member Countries, Observer Countries and regional organisations. He further thanked everyone for their interest in strengthening the Association.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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