His Excellency Stanislav Vidovič presents his letters of credence to CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque
His Excellency Stanislav Vidovič presents his letters of credence to CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque

Slovenia, CARICOM forging closer relations

From  CARICOM Secretariat

Georgetown, Guyana – The Republic of Slovenia and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are moving to further deepen relations.

New Ambassador of Slovenia to CARICOM H.E. Stanislav Vidovič, in a ceremony for the presentation of his credentials to Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque Wednesday, pointed to several areas for closer cooperation including sustainable development, environmental issues, climate change and economic integration.

He said as a member of the European Union, Slovenia took an active role in developing the Joint Caribbean EU Partnership Strategy and was one of the chief proponents of the Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and CARIFORUM, which was signed in 2008, the year Slovenia held the EU Presidency.

Ambassador Vidovič pledged to continue pursuing the “numerous possibilities” to further deepen CARICOM-Slovenia cooperation at the bilateral level, within the framework at the EU and in the multilateral arena.

Secretary-General LaRocque acknowledged that the time was right to strengthen ties and that there were sufficient areas of common interest to act upon. He said he took note of commonalities, including Slovenia being a small state like those of CARICOM; has also suffered from the global financial crisis and the European debt crisis of 2007-2010; and was subjected to natural disasters, being in an active seismic zone. Slovenia’s significant hydro thermal and wind renewable energy capacity also formed an excellent basis for strengthened cooperation with CARICOM, LaRocque added.

He said CARICOM welcomed Slovenia’s strong support for upholding the aims and projected outcomes of the Paris Climate Accord and its advocacy for urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts by regulating emissions and promoting developments in renewable energy.

“As you are no doubt aware, our member states are on the frontline facing the effects of climate change,” he said. “The hurricanes of last September exemplified that fact. We are not primary contributors to the causes of climate change, but are disproportionately affected by its consequences. For us, climate change is an existential issue. It highlights our vulnerability as Small-Island and Low-Lying Coastal Developing States (SIDS) to external factors.”

In this regard, he said CARICOM viewed as urgent a fundamental revision of the use of the grossly inadequate and inaccurate measurement of GDP per capita as a principal criterion for accessing concessional developing financing.

The region cannot rebuild after the massive hurricane devastation without access to concessional development financing, including grants, he stated, adding that CARICOM member states that were not destroyed also need concessional financing for climate resilience.

“I have taken note of Slovenia’s membership in the OECD, the agency that examine these matters, and I would urge that when you have a clear understanding of these matters, that you would be of support to us,” the secretary-general said.

He added that CARICOM was seriously challenged by the withdrawal of crucial correspondent banking relationships, which has arisen with some member states being labelled as “non-cooperative tax jurisdictions” by the EU using new and unilaterally-determined criteria. CARICOM strongly objects to “this unilateral listing” of its member states and was willing to have discussions on this matter with the relevant EU Councils and bodies, of which Slovenia is a prominent member, he told the new ambassador.

The stated “new” criteria established by the EU go beyond the generally accepted international tax transparency and accountability standards that CARICOM countries had been diligently meeting over the past several years. The relevant international regulatory authorities, such as the Financial Action Task Force and the OECD Global Forum, have not designated these member states as noncooperative, the secretary-general said.