16 December 2013

Curacao Prime Minister sees increased regional integration as critical to the sustainable development process

Ministerial Conference 
12th Forum of the European Union 
and the Overseas Countries and Territories of the EU

Address of H.E. Ivar Asjes 

Prime Minister

picture by curacaochronicle.com

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Members of Parliament, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to express my appreciation to the European Commission together in cooperation with the OCTA Chair for the excellent preparations for our deliberations this week, and for the superb arrangements made in convening the various events associated with this 12th Forum of the European Union and OCTs.

The constructive dialogue which has characterised our discussions thus far has been is highly useful in facilitating sustainable economic and social development for the OCTs as we face the formidable challenges posed in this increasingly globalised world, and as we seek to further advance the development process of our respective societies.

In this connection, it is particularly useful that we as OCTs continue to avail ourselves of this unique opportunity for dialogue, not only within the OCTs of our respective regions, but also across other regions as well. Indeed, the sharing of best practices and innovations employed by OCTs has been a highlight of our discussions this week.

The innovative strategies presented during the last few days have provided tangible evidence of how OCT’s can turn adversity into an asset to the benefit of social economic development.

Mr. Chairman,

Such exchange of ideas and strategies confirm the determination of OCT’s to devise ways and means to address the challenges we face as leaders in advancing our respective development processes. In this connection, we encourage the further advancement of opportunities for such dialogue amongst OCTs, the outermost regions, as well as the ACP countries which are similarly situated. We take note that the OCTA Roadmap for 2014, makes specific reference to the importance of such linkages. 

To this end, we express our appreciation for the support provided by our European Union partners as an important tool to advance our development process. The flexibility shown in facilitating the completion of the EDF 10 process is well appreciated as an important input into the infrastructural development of our neighborhoods.

Mr. Chairman,

As has been reinforced throughout our discussions this week, the OCTs are widely dispersed through the planet yet share common characteristics including dis-economies of scale, distance from markets, geographical isolation, vulnerability to external shocks, and the susceptibility to the uncertainty and unpredictability of climate change. In this context, it is important to emphasise that the partnership between the OCTs and the EU serves as a valuable mechanism to facilitate economic and social progress.

The partnership also affords the opening of the necessary space for OCTs to advance amid the challenges of globalisation. For Curacao, such space is critical to advancing our sustainable development process, and serves to facilitate increased integration within the international community - including our Caribbean region - via the active functional participation in international and regional organisations, and through bilateral economic cooperation.

Since our emergence as an autonomous country in 2010, we have accelerated efforts in this regard. Curacao has gained associate membership in the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean – the major economic cooperation mechanism in our hemisphere. Curacao has also succeeded in joining other relevant institutions including UNESCO and the Latin American Parliament, and presently enjoys full membership in the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and Interpol.

We are also seeking to re-join a number of additional international bodies in which we participated as part of the former Netherlands Antilles. These include the Alliance of Small Island States which focuses on small island states and climate change negotiations. We are also proceeding to update our status with the International Olympic Committee, and have formally applied for associate membership in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

We are working towards similar functional cooperation with other relevant technical and economic organisations, and are exploring dialogue with several states in our hemisphere to facilitate trade, investment and related business activity. Curacao sees this functional cooperation and engagement with the international community as a modern approach in furtherance of the sustainable development process.

Curacao appreciates the constructive relations with the European Commission and the good results achieved at this Forum with regards to the 10th EDF and future cooperation. This cooperation will benefit the population of Curacao, through low-cost housing and urban development.

We are now at an important stage where the new Overseas Association Decision (OAD) will enter into force at 1st January 2014. Curacao welcomes the more mature nature of the relationship with the EU, where more responsibilities are entrusted to the OCT’s. This forms a better platform for the ownership by the OCT’s with regards to our partnership.

We welcome the opportunity to utilize the new OAD to position the OCT’s cooperation in their region. In that respect Curacao is looking forward to further establishing itself as a logistical hub in the Caribbean and Latin American Region.

As for the 11th EDF, we commend the Member States and the European Commission on a job well done.

As Commissioner Piebalgs stated, an increase of the Territorial and Regional Envelope in these challenging times, is sign of the commitment on the part of the EU, and also reiterates that the OCT’s are recognised as a valuable asset.

In closing and on behalf of the government and people of Curacao, I wish to express appreciation to the OCT’s for the confidence you have placed in Curacao through our election as vice chairman of the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA). We look forward to working closely, within the framework of the Board of Chairmen, to advance the visibility of the OCTA vis a vis the EU at a high political level. We will work closely with the Chair to both strengthen the OCT political representation, and enhance the implementation of the OCTA mandate adopted by the OCT’s. Again, thank you for the support, and Curacao looks forward to a prosperous collaboration with the Commission and OCT’s in the year ahead.

Thank you.


Asjes Chosen As Vice-President OCTA

BRUSSELS, WILLEMSTAD – Ivar Asjes was elected as vice-president of the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA), the organization of the 22 overseas territories which have constitutional ties with European countries. Member countries were in Brussels, Belgium to discuss issues of the OCTA together.

Some of these issues are climate change, construction and maintenance of infrastructure, energy and socioeconomic problems. Participants also agreed on the presidency of the organization. The 22 delegations chose Prime Minister Orlando Smith (British Virgin Islands) as President and his colleague Prime Minister of Curacao, Ivar Asjes as vice president.

According to Prime Minister Asjes, his appointment as vice-president of the OCTA represents an important step for Curacao. “It’s an opportunity to have closer ties of mutual cooperation in the region. It also helps to position our nation in the international arena,” Asjes declared.

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