CI premier voted VP on new regional council
(CNS): The Cayman Islands premier was elected as vice chair of the Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories Council (COCTC) on Thursday by regional leaders at the council in Curacao. Despite McKeeva Bush’s difficulties on the domestic front, with three police investigations currently surrounding him, his regional high level colleagues offered him their support and confidence with the election to the new regional body. The ten Caribbean leaders have agreed to establish a regional Overseas Countries and Territories Council to coordinate their relationship with the European Union.
“The formation of this council is an important step for regional territories, as it is essential for our small territories to coordinate and cooperate if we are to make real progress in our relationship with the European Union, and other supra-national organisations,” Bush stated in a release from the premier’s office. “I appreciate the confidence shown in me by my counterparts, and I look forward to the vigorous development of this council."
The aim of the council, which was established through the signing of an MOU, is to work on a joint agenda for sustainable development and a roadmap to establish a Caribbean Agenda with respect to the new Agreement of the Overseas Countries and Territories that is currently being prepared by the EU and should come into effect January 1st 2014, government officials stated.
The council, it is hoped, will help the countries ensure their needs and interests are incorporated on the European agenda.
It also provides a formal institution to work together among all Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories on areas of common interest. Through this council, knowledge and experiences will be shared and joint initiatives will be taken to ensure project funding from the EU on topics that are of joint interest, officials stated.
During the discussions the participants were said to have “embraced the concept of sustainable development" as their starting point and specific areas for cooperation, included transportation and logistics, capacity building, human capital development, waste management, climate change and renewable energy, the development of public-private-partnerships, as well as disaster management and the relationship with the EU.
On each topic specific working groups have been initiated and will present a Working Plan by 1 September. The Cayman Islands will be represented on a number of the working groups of the council, and leading on at least two. The Caribbean OCT Council will meet again on 23 September, prior to the next EU-OCT Forum.
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