EXPANDING OECS: Dominica PM says he will back associate membership for French islands

Speaking at a meeting on the island’s geothermal energy project involving representatives from the Regional Councils of Guadeloupe and Martinique and a French-based non-government organisation, Skerrit said he believed that the French islands “have an important role to play in the process of political integration with the OECS”.

The OECS groups the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands.

He said while the two French islands were considered European territories “but you are in the Caribbean and we share many common challenges which require our common approach to addressing those challenges.

He said the sub-region could not speak about dealing with security “without bringing the French assets into play in fighting transnational crimes.

“We can’t speak about trade without having Guadeloupe and Martinique on the table…because of the large markets you have and your access to Europe. So for a multiplicity of reasons we believe an associate membership in the OECS would be a welcome move and Dominica would do everything possible to ensure that the approval is given for both Martinique and Guadeloupe for associate members of the OECS”.

He said legislation would also be considered to ensure that the French islands benefit from Dominica’s geothermal resources.

Earlier this month, Dominica launched a project aimed at determining the true potential of the geothermal reservoir in the Roseau Valley as part of the efforts by the island to generate its electricity needs away from a primarily fossil fuel base to a renewable energy resource.

With assistance from the French and the European Union, the Skerrit government has announced plans to drill three wells in the Laudat and Wotten Waven areas to determine the geothermal capacity that the government said could be shared with the Caribbean including the neighbouring French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe.

The drilling will be done by an Iceland based company and the project would be supervised by the Geothermal Resource Group from the United States.

“We believe that for an appreciation for true union or integration our people must see tangible things….in areas of practical cooperation and not only cooperation and integration by words,” he said, adding “we see this geothermal project as a very important aspect that integration process”

Skerrit said that “this resource must and shall be shared with our friends in Martinique and Guadeloupe. We need to take that serious to even a level where you will have legislation which will guide that sharing of the resource between ourselves and I say so with absolutely no apology to anybody in Dominica or outside of Dominica.

“It is our firm belief, it is our principle position on this matter,” he said noting the long relationship between Dominica and the French islands.

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