Appeal for cheaper intra-regional travel

Antigua
and Barbuda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chet Greene has called on Caricom member states to address the issue of cheaper intra-regional travel, arguing that with shared language and cultures the region should be “closer” than it is now.

Greene, the outgoing chair of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), made the appeal at the opening ceremony of the 26th meeting of COFCOR at Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Tuesday morning.

“Unlike other institutions such as the European Union, we are not landlocked but separated by sea. The pandemic has further exacerbated the issue of affordable regional transportation. In order to achieve Caricom’s pillars of regional integration, it is necessary for us to address this issue of regional travel with the urgency that is required,” Greene argued.

He said that respective member states, along with the secretariat, need to devise workable plans and solutions to provide affordable air and maritime travel.

“This requires lobbying efforts through the ministries of foreign affairs and overseas missions, friendly nations for developmental assistance,” Greene said.

He also encouraged the secretariat to further create an environment that will foster stronger community engagement through improved internal relations.

“Through this, we will have a much better Caribbean Community where our people can express their talents and innovative capabilities to further lend to regional development,” he noted.

Greene said it was especially important for the excellent work of Caricom to be echoed across the region and throughout the globe, given that it is about to celebrate 50 years as an organisation and is the oldest surviving institution in the hemisphere, adding, “there are still areas which we must continuously address such as community relations”.

Jamaica assumed chairmanship of COFCOR in May this year and will remain in the seat for a year.

As part of the responsibilities of the chairmanship, the 26th COFCOR meeting is being hosted May 16 to 17 and will be followed by the 11th meeting of the United Kingdom-Caribbean Forum on May 18, and the Inaugural Jamaica/UK Strategic Dialogue on May 19.