The deepening of relations between Barbados, France and its overseas territories Martinique and Guadeloupe received a fillip last weekend.
That is when a series of talks were held between Prime Minister of Barbados Freundel Stuart; French President Francois Hollande; and the Presidents of the two Regions, Serge Letchimy of Martinique and Victorin Lurel of Guadeloupe.
At the regional level, the Prime Minister engaged in discussions held on Climate Change, in preparation for the upcoming 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate (UNFCCC COP) 21 review, to be held in Paris in December 2015.
In his statement to the meeting, Mr. Stuart expressed Barbados??? concern regarding calls by some parties for a negotiated outcome that fell short of what was required to safeguard and protect vulnerable countries; and the significant gap between the Parties??? mitigation pledges and levels of emission consistent with keeping a global temperature increase of below 2 ??C or 1.5 ??C above pre-industrial levels.
He also indicated Barbados??? specific requirements for a meaningful outcome to the UNFCCC COP 21.??In his capacity as incoming CARICOM Chairman for July – December this year, Mr. Stuart pledged Barbados??? support to the French Presidency in its desire to bring about ???an ambitious, equitable, legally-binding, comprehensive and fair protocol???.
Barbados supported the Fort- de-France call for Action aimed at achieving the desired result. Other regional Heads of Government attending the meeting were Perry Christie of The Bahamas; Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Dr. Timothy Harris of St: Kitts and Nevis; and Dr. Kenny Anthony of St. Lucia.
The Prime Minister also held bilateral talks with President Hollande, which focused on the strengthening of ties between France and Barbados, as well as between the overseas territories and Barbados; the need for an Air Services Agreement; and on the promotion of tourism between the two sides.
Among other matters raised were the nature and importance of Barbados??? International Business and Financial Services sector, and the Chairmanship of the CARICOM Reparations Committee by the Prime Minister of Barbados, in the context of the UN launch of the International Decade for People of African Descent.
Mr. Stuart also attended the opening of the impressive Centre for Expressions and Remembrance of Slavery and the Slave Trade (Memorial ACTE) on 4.4 hectares of land in Guadeloupe, at which the French President declared his intention to right the historical wrong imposed on Haiti when it had to pay finance for its Independence. The President delivered a strong statement about slavery and its effects, and also noted that the reparations debate was not yet over.
The discussions between the Prime Minister and the President of the Martinique region, Serge Letchimy, centered on an 18 million Euro project on cancer being spearheaded by Martinique, in which he has invited Barbados to participate. Tourism, health, air links and the deepening of cooperation in general were also raised.
Mr. Stuart also held discussions with the Regional President of Guadeloupe, Victorin Lurel, and he gave his commitment to strengthening relations between the two countries.