PM: More talks with C’wealth states

| November 1, 2011

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said T&T will be stepping up its bilateral talks with member states, in a bid to relax the requirements for Commonwealth citizens entering the country for business or holiday.

Persad-Bissessar made the remarks at yesterday’s closing press conference of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) being held in Perth, Australia.

Persad-Bissessar said the goal of this initiative was to establish a bridge between the Commonwealth and South America.

The Prime Minister hailed CHOGM as being extremely significant “because of its reform agenda, as well as its focus on issues critical to its member states including small island developing states such as T&T.”

Also being explored is the possibility of direct flights from South Africa and India to T&T. Persad-Bissessar said CHOGM heads have agreed to a series of actions geared towards maintaining the relevance of the Commonwealth, and to ensure its effectiveness in responding to contemporary challenges.

“Heads agreed to the strengthening of the role of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), the custodian of these very values and principles, without considerable increase in cost to member states.

“Strengthening of CMAG is a positive development and will go a long way to preserving Commonwealth values, as well as, act as an effective check on any attacks upon human rights in members states,” Persad-Bissessar said.

Declaring that T&T is grateful for the support from Caricom, Persad -Bissessar said “as a member, we will be able to remain engaged as we strengthen CMAG’s role to deal with serious and persistent violation of Commonwealth values.”

Also on the agenda, were climate change and sustainable development, effective resource management, attainment of the millennium development goals, universal access to health care, accelerating the implementation of the political declaration of the UN high-level meeting on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable diseases which was spearheaded by Caricom states, migration, human trafficking,terrorism, gender equality and trade related issues.

With respect to the reform agenda, Persad-Bissessar said an agreement was reached with regards to a series of actions “to maintain the relevance of the Commonwealth and to ensure its effectiveness in responding to contemporary challenges”.

Adding that the Charter is to be approved by leaders following a meeting of Commonwealth Foreign Ministers in September next year, Persad-Bissessar said after a process of consultation, the principles and aspirations of the 54-member association will be reflected. On the issue of food security, it was agreed that the “volatility of global food markets, which have resulted in humanitarian crises around the world affecting vulnerable developing countries,” will be addressed and the adoption measures for financial support, to increase food production in African countries, will be discussed.

Noting the voice of the people cannot be ignored, Persad-Bissessar said globally, civil society is seeking greater involvement in the political process “in self-determination and in policy formulation.”

“This is even more important given the youthful population of the Commonwealth and the growing restlessness of youth globally.

“We must try and ensure that perceptions and/or feelings of alienation/marginalisation by youth should be managed and youths must become involved in national affairs,” Persad-Bissessar said.

 

(Source http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/PM__More_talks_with_C_wealth_states-132900973.html)

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