St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves on Monday said he expects “mature” discussions to take place during the two-day European Union and the Community of Latin American and the Caribbean States (CELAC) summit that gets underway in Brussels on Monday.
The EU-CELAC summit is the first to be held in eight years, and Gonsalves, who is CELAC pro tempore president, told reporters ahead of the deliberations that he expects the final communique would make reference to the issue of reparation for slavery.
He told reporters outside the venue of the summit that he has already held talks with Charles Michel, the President of the EU Council “to see how we could finalise some issues in the declaration”.
Gonsalves said that there are several issues affecting the region he would like discussed, including climate change, poverty, food security, reform of the global financial architecture, digital transition and improved multilateralism.
“I am very hopeful that we will see a paragraph in the declaration addressing the historical legacies of native genocide and enslavement of African bodies and something towards reparative justice.
“This is a subject on which we need to have a mature conversation. In the case of the English-speaking Caribbean countries, one of the main countries in Europe, well they are not in the European Union…the United Kingdom, Prince Charles, before he was King Charles at the Commonwealth Heads of Government last year in Rwanda said the time has come for a mature conversation on the subject,” Gonsalves said.
“We have seen apologies issued by some countries, recently the King in the Netherlands. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has put forward a 10-point plan for reparative justice…this is not a plan for individual persons to get money, it’s a plan on many issues involving the question of debt relief, social and inclusive matters in education and health (and) some cultural issues…”
Gonsalves said the intention is for the Caribbean to work together with Europe “on those matters to repair the historical legacies of underdevelopment resulting from native genocide and enslavement of African bodies”.
Gonsalves said that an agreement on the issue would be a “basis for the intelligent mature discussion.
“You know as well as I do know it is a discussion the time of which has now arrived,” he told the reporters. (CMC)