During his first overseas trip as government leader, last week Premier Andrew Fahie attended the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States meeting in Guadeloupe, a French overseas region that became an associate member of the sub-regional grouping.
At the event, which was held last Thursday and Friday, Mr. Fahie delivered a speech outlining his newly elected government’s decision to “urgently look into the status situation of thousands of people — most of them from the Eastern Caribbean, particularly St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica — who have made BVI their home.”
He assured attendees that the VI government believes it is an “economic and moral imperative” to ensure permanent status for many such individuals, and used personal examples to strengthen his point. Many of the people from eastern Caribbean countries, he said, are “our dear friends and neighbours.”
The premier also expressed the Virgin Islands’ commitment to the OECS and pushed for cross-border solidarity to stand up to an “aggressive push” by members of the United Kingdom parliament.
“Our struggles in this Caribbean basin have always been one and the same, and it manifests itself in the modern day through our shared interest in having to defend and protect our different financial services sectors from the unfair and onerous demands from the United Kingdom in particular in our case, and the European Union in your case,” he said.
He added that the UK Parliament “seems determined to issue edicts to its overseas territories in the region without paying attention to the expressed will of the people.”
Mr. Fahie kept the public informed of his thoughts on the meeting on the VI Party Facebook page, where he wrote that he is confident that he can do good work together with the leaders of the Eastern Caribbean.
Recognising the significance of his initial trip overseas, he said, “The work has begun on all fronts — locally, regionally and internationally — to find creative ways to promote the agenda of the people of the British Virgin Islands.”
The OECS has seven founding members that have full membership status. Associate members include Anguilla, the VI, Martinique and now Guadeloupe. The latter group can’t be elected into the OECS general committee, but can maintain alliances and a voice in the organisation.
The OECS came into being on June 18, 1981 after the signing of the Treaty of Basseterre, which declared the seven founding members would cooperate with each other. The VI joined the organisation in 1998.