Barbados??? Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has urged the Commonwealth to continue its work on key small states??? issues.

In a press statement released at the conclusion of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta, Mr. Stuart identified those issues as the need to address debt, trade and climate financing, tax cooperation and international financial centres, as well as emerging areas related to sustainable development, including ocean governance and the ???blue??? economy.

He said Barbados welcomed the Commonwealth???s continued support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belize and Guyana, as well as that of Cyprus.

The Prime Minister continued: ???We appreciate that, notwithstanding its unique role in supporting small states, there is the need to ensure that the Commonwealth also retains its relevance to its larger members.

In that regard, the focus of the CHOGM on matters of migration, radicalisation, violent extremism and terrorism is welcomed. Similarly, we affirm the focus on key matters on the global agenda affecting all Commonwealth countries, regardless of size, including Climate Change, and the implementation of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals…

???It is however important to note that in order to remain relevant, focused and effective, there is a need for a greater collaboration between Commonwealth Intergovernmental and Associated Organisations. I also want to encourage, in my role as Chair of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), cooperation with the United Nations, particularly its specialised agencies, as well as with relevant regional intergovernmental organisations, including CARICOM, given their complementary capacities. We need to promote synergies among these related organisations towards the realisation of enhanced outcomes within and across the Commonwealth.???

Mr. Stuart noted that the role of the Commonwealth had become more relevant, and what was perceived as ???club diplomacy??? had been replaced by ???network diplomacy???. According to him, foreign policy and diplomacy now involved a delicate balancing of interests and pressures from a diverse array of domestic, international, governmental and non-governmental actors.

???This development, coupled with an expanding agenda of international problems from climate change to terrorism, make the need for international collaboration and cooperation greater than ever before,??? he remarked.

He said the Commonwealth should be highly commended for the Open-Ended Ministerial Working Group on Small States, the development of the Commonwealth Resilience Framework, and the establishment of the Small States Centre of Excellence in Malta.

He added that the meeting also set up the much needed Climate Finance Access Hub to assist vulnerable small island developing states, among others, in accessing finance. He also praised the recent establishment of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council to promote trade and investment in the Commonwealth.

Mr. Stuart also thanked the outgoing Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma for his dedicated service, and congratulated the Secretary General-designate, Patricia Scotland.

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