The following is an address on the Thirty-fourth Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM which was made by acting Minister of Communications, the Honourable Anil Roberts at the weekly post-Cabinet news conference which was held at the Office of the Prime Minister in St. Clair.
Good afternoon to members of the media and to the viewers on television and those of
you tuned in on the Internet.
I am here to tell you about the exciting week ahead for the people of Trinidad and Tobago and the CARICOM region.
Beginning on Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013, the Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC, MP, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, will be host to 14 Heads of Government of CARICOM Member States, five Heads from the Associate Members, and three Special Guests namely, the Presidents of the Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea and Venezuela. We would also be joined by the Heads of Regional and International Organisations.
As a result of the decision taken at the Thirty-second Regular Meeting of Heads in St.Kitts and Nevis in July 2011,Trinidad and Tobago will be hosting the Thirty-fourth Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM which coincides with the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas.
The then Heads of Government of the Independent Commonwealth Caribbean Countries signed the Treaty on July 4th 1973 at the Chaguaramas Convention Centre.
Our Prime Minister will be the Chairman of the Conference for the six-month period 1 July to 31 December 2013. The Honourable Prime Minister will also be a member of the Bureau of the Conference as the Incumbent Chair.
The other members of the Bureau will be His Excellency Michel Martelly, President of Haiti and Outgoing Chair and Dr. the Honourable Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Incoming Chair.
We will be ably supported in our work by the Secretary-General in his capacity of Chief Executive Officer of the Community.
The conference begins on Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013 with the Opening Ceremony at the Diplomatic Centre. Several of the leaders will deliver addresses, including the Outgoing Chair, His Excellency Michel Martelly, President of the Republic of Haiti, and our Prime Minister, as the Incoming Chair.
The following day, Thursday, July 4th, there will be an event at the Chaguaramas Convention Centre to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas. For those of you who are old enough to remember, it was 40 years ago that then Prime Minister, Dr.Eric Williams, together with Prime Minister Errol Barrow of Barbados, Prime Minister Michael Manley of Jamaica, and Prime Minister Forbes Burnham of Guyana, affixed their respective signatures to the Treaty of Chaguaramas.
Forty years later, on July 4th, we will revisit and re-enact that historic event in the presence of a wide cross-section of guests from Trinidad and Tobago, the Region and beyond.
We return to the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, the venue of the Heads of Government Conference, where our special guest at lunch, will be His Excellency Teodoro Obiang Nguema, President of Equatorial Guinea. President Obiang Nguema is the chairman of the ACP Group of countries. As you are aware, we are also members of that Group, which represents countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific regions. We in Trinidad and Tobago also have an interest in
discussing energy-related matters with the President.
On Friday 5th July, the Heads of Government will be in an all-day retreat. The guest of honour at Petrotrin will be His Excellency Danilo Medina, President of the Dominican Republic.
The Heads of Government Conference ends on Saturday, July 6th. Our special guest on the final day will be His Excellency Nicolas Maduro, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
President Maduro’s visit is important in the context of the Region’s relations with Venezuela – an important player in hemispheric affairs.
On that final afternoon, the Honourable Prime Minister will host a press conference together with Ambassador Irwin LaRoque, Secretary General of CARICOM, to update both the local and regional media of the discussions and decisions taken.
The Conference ends with a farewell dinner at the Diplomatic Centre on the evening of July 6th. We know there are several burning issues for us to resolve. These include the Economic Situation Facing member States and the Region, Transportation in the Region, Reform Process in CARICOM, and Proposal for a High-level Meeting on Persons with Disabilities and Special Needs.
I thank you.