“ OECS leaders end summit ”


ROSEAU, Dominica – Leaders of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) ended their summit last night expressing concerns over the visa requirements imposed on some countries by Canada and welcoming new efforts by the French islands in the Caribbean to be part of the sub regional grouping. “Martinique and Guadeloupe a few months ago applied for associate membership of the OECS and an OECS negotiating team has been established, its negotiating briefs have been prepared and it is ready to commence negotiations with the Martinique and Guadeloupe negotiating teams,” OECS Chairman Dr Ralph Gonsalves told reporters. Gonsalves, who is also Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said the French teams have already indicated they “will shortly be ready to tango, so to speak. “This is a very important strategic development,” he said, noting also that the nine-member sub-regional grouping is also concerned that the use of a drivers licence for travel is posing problems for nationals within the movement.” He said the regional airline, LIAT has indicated the use of a driver’s licence for travel by OECS citizens within the OECS, is not sufficient since it “does not have sufficient information”. He said the difficulty comes about, “not so much for the travel between two OECS countries, but if you have to pass through Barbados or Trinidad to come to any of the OECS countries...we have difficulties clearly. “So we have to engage the Barbadian authorities on this question. The Trinidad authorities say our picture Ids (identification cards) can be used, but we also have to have certain matters clarified with LIAT. The leaders from Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Montserrat, St. Kitts-Nevis, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands also discussed the recent decision by Canada to impose visa restrictions on nationals from St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. “We must record and re-affirm our profound concern about the manner in which the Canadian authorities implemented the visa restrictions and visa restriction itself. “We are asking all our citizens who going to visit Canada to follow the laws and practices relating to immigration in Canada. But we have to reiterate our profound concern about these visa impositions. (CMC)