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Montserrat participating in Foreign Service Officers workshop

RODNEY BAY, St. Lucia – Two senior members of staff in the Office of the Chief Minister are presently in St. Lucia attending the Continuing Education seminar for OECS Foreign Service Officers.

Assistant Secretary Colin Fergus and Director of Information and Communication Nerissa Golden are representing Montserrat at the two-day workshop, which is part of the programme to develop and enhance foreign service capacity for all member states of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.

Director General of the OECS Dr. Len Ishmael told the attendees, the world today calls for a new development paradigm and that the islands must be the biggest champions on the global stage for the OECS. She added that the region has never had a culture of negotiation and we are not comfortable with the language.

“Today we will take a look at the spirit, language and art of negotiation. Our development partners want to work on a regional level and are moving away from bilateral relations. We must position ourselves to take advantage of that.”

During the opening ceremony, His Excellency Ambassador Jesus Garcia-Aldaz of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain said these are difficult times for all and it has become necessary to change “our approach to negotiating on the international scene.” He said the OECS must be ready to take advantage of the new ways and the integration of the islands in the Caribbean was welcome.”

The ambassador used the example of the European Union which because of the common currency, the Euro, was able to survive the recent financial challenges. He added that the OECS is regarded in many countries of the world as a success story and more and more countries will want to do business with this group. Having a solid foreign office corps and the skills to negotiate would enable the region to make decisions to benefit all.

Dr. Efrain Vasquez-Vera who has been leading the charge for establishing the OECS School of Diplomacy was also in attendance and said he was happy to see the next stage of the school taking shape. Over the two days participants will work learn skills and concepts for negotiations with international development agencies and work to complete the framework on the School of Diplomacy.

The workshop is being sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain.