Ambassador Felix Gregoire
Ambassador Felix Gregoire

History was made when Martinique was placed among the rainbow of OECS flags on February 4, 2015.

On the first day of the two-day meeting there was the formal signing of documents initiating the accession to Associate Membership of Martinique by President of the Regional Council of Martinique Serge Letchiny and the Chairman of the OECS Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.

According to the Ambassador of the OECS to Dominica Felix Gregoire, "Martinique becoming an associate member makes Martinique a member of the OECS Economic Union which was set up by the revised Treaty of Basseterre and that provides for free movement of persons, free movement of goods and other things as well.

"What that means for the islands is that with Martinique in we have the corridor to France because Martinique is a department of France and a lot of policy decisions are taken in France so therefore we have that link to France and to Europe because France is a member of the European Union," said Ambassador Gregoire.

Gregoire further noted that the OECS member states can now look towards Europe in a more favourable light in the sense that the voices of the OECS member states can be heard even if it's through Martinique, the concerns will be heard at the level of the European Union.

He added: "In that agreement there are a number of areas of corporation between the OECS member states and Martinique. It covers areas to do with agriculture, education, health, tourism, environmental matters, fisheries and very importantly immigration. At the meeting President Letchiny gave priorities to three areas; right now we will look at health, education and climate change."

He explained that "in the area of health in Martinique there are very good facilities and our people have been going there over the years; so it is just a matter of formalizing the arrangements, as the Prime Minister said, to have a protocol. And you have education, there are institutions of higher learning not only in France but in Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, you have all those institutions that our students can tap into; climate change is something that is very high in the international arena with respect to sea level rise and the different things that are happening impacting the small islands. I think there will be a move to make it easier for OECS nationals to access the medical services in Martinique; I don't want to say cheaper but it will be easier but cost is a major factor."

Ambassador Gregoire mentioned that both Martinique and Guadeloupe applied to be part of the OECS; however, through the negotiating teams established, Martinique showed more interest than Guadeloupe.

"The process by which Martinique became a member was that both Martinique and Guadeloupe applied to become members of the OECS and then the OECS established a negotiating team to negotiate with a team from the French. Martinique showed more interest, they were more prepared to go ahead, so the team negotiated with Martinique- now the team was chaired by Swinburne Lestrade, that team and the Martinique team negotiated an agreement and that agreement was signed between Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and President Serge Letchiny," he stated.

He added that: "We will recommence negotiations with Guadeloupe and we are hoping that things will move much faster because now Martinique is in and there is always competition between Martinique and Guadeloupe in all areas so Martinique is in then Guadeloupe will want to be in very soon we don't have a deadline but we will move much faster than before."