… as CARICOM Foreign Ministers engage U.S. Secretary of State
AT a recent engagement with Foreign Ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and United States Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd, stressed the ability of Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, to drive regional energy security.
The Foreign Ministers and the Secretary of State met during a virtual meeting on Wednesday, and briefly discussed a number of mutual areas of interest including democracy, human rights, disaster preparedness, security, health and environmental protection. All speakers also used the opportunity to express support for the St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as the country continues to face the effects of ongoing volcanic eruptions. After the engagement, Minister Todd told the Guyana Chronicle that his presentation focussed on regional energy security, emphasising that there should be continued cooperation and investments in oil and gas, alternative energy and financing from the international financial institutions (IFIs).
“I also alluded to the fact that the southern corner of CARICOM is involved in oil production and the three countries that are Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad can help in driving the regional energy security agenda,” Minister Todd said.
There are several initiatives and policy agendas within the energy security institutional framework and, as such, Minister Todd noted that engagement with the U.S., both on a government-to-government level and at the private sector level, can help the region to secure its energy ambition.
Minister Todd related that the Secretary of State underscored the need for greater climate action, cognisant of the reality of climate change and the region’s vulnerability in this regard. To this end, Minister Todd assured this newspaper that the energy drive can be advanced within the context of the region’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in line with international climate commitments.
At this meeting too, the integrity of countries’ borders was briefly raised. Chairman of the CARICOM Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration of Belize, Eamon Courtenay, reminded the gathering that two of CARICOM’s member states are engaged in cases before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). “Valuable resources are being diverted on resolving centuries old disputes. These cases are necessary in order to preserve our territorial integrity and to exercise sovereignty over our land and seas and resources. “The ability of our members to sustainably harness natural resources within internationally recognised boundaries is critical as we seek economic development and diversification as well as energy security,” Courtenay said.
The border controversies between Guyana and Venezuela, and Belize and Guatemala, are before the ICJ. And, Courtenay told the Secretary of State that CARICOM welcomes the continued commitment of the U.S. Government to these processes. While noting that the border controversies were not discussed in depth, Minister Todd, however, reminded this newspaper that CARICOM supports Guyana and Guyana’s engagement with the ICJ, since the country is acting in a manner that is in line with international law.
Additionally, he said that the U.S., on several occasions, made their commitment to the peaceful resolution of the process between Guyana and Venezuela.
According to a release from CARICOM, Secretary of State Blinken stressed his determination to strengthen co-operation and co-ordination and stated that he would engage with his colleague U.S. Cabinet Secretaries on the issues of mutual interest raised by the CARICOM Ministers.