Guyana has accrued great benefits from Commonwealth membership - Rohee

Stabroek News
March 9, 2001

Guyana has benefited significantly through its membership of the Commonwealth. This was the message conveyed by Foreign Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee, speaking at a symposium on Wednesday to observe Commonwealth Day.

Rohee pointed out that besides technical assistance, the Commonwealth was helping to promote democracy and good governance in Guyana. Under the Harare Declaration, he said, Guyana was able to benefit from the presence of overseas observers during elections time.

He added that apart from its bilateral relations with individual member states, Guyana had access to some 20 regional bodies through the Commonwealth.

In the area of border problems, Rohee mentioned that at the last Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting the decision was taken to establish a monitoring group to keep an eye on Guyana's concerns with Venezuela and Suriname. The group includes the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa and Jamaica.

Already it has met once and further discussions are taking place at the level of the High Commissioners.

Rohee indicated that the Commonwealth was favourably considering a request by Guyana to carry out a study on the impact of the Everything but Arms (EBA) initiative on the local rice industry. The EBA is an initiative by the European Union to grant duty-free access to all items but arms to the world's poorest 48 countries, otherwise referred to as the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). It recently came into effect.

He acknowledged the role of the group in promoting debt relief, while noting that some of its members belonged to the powerful Group of Seven countries.

Appreciation was also expressed for the assistance currently being provided by the Commonwealth in helping the Foreign Ministry to strengthen its archives.

The symposium was hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and chaired by Ambassador Rudy Collins, head of the Multilateral Unit in the Ministry. Other speakers who made presentations included British High Commissioner, Edward Glover; Adviser to the President on Science, Technology and the Environment, Navin Chandarpal; Regional Director for the Commonwealth Youth Programme, Armstrong Alexis, and Commonwealth Fellow 2000, Karen De Souza.

Commonwealth Day is celebrated on the second Monday of March every year. Among the activities which have been planned for next Monday are a radio message by Foreign Minister Clement Rohee, a cultural presentation at the Georgetown Cricket Club, an exhibition by Commonwealth member countries on Main Street, a church service at St George's Cathedral, and a reception at Hotel Tower.

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 developed and developing nations. Its population of 1.7 billion people accounts for 30 per cent of the global total.