Prime Minister Gaston Browne believes the Czech Republic can play a critical role in assisting Antigua and Barbuda address what he has termed the “vexing issues” policies of the European Union towards Caribbean nations.
The prime minister observed during a courtesy call made by the Czech Republic’s ambassador to Antigua and Barbuda, Miloslav Stasek, when he presented his credentials to the government this week.
“I am sure that there are many areas where we can rely on your support. For example, you know that within the European Union, we have a number of issues – vexing issues – in which we need the assistance of countries, such as the Czech Republic.
“The issue of de-risking and the issue of blacklisting, in which the EU is unilaterally creating these sanction lists and placing Eastern Caribbean countries on these sanction lists resulting in de-risking, and I would say wrongfully so,” the prime minister explained.
According to Browne, although Caribbean nations are in compliance with the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) requirements, they remain on EU blacklists which have adverse impact on the nations that populate them.
“The EU is going outside of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the FATF to create its own sanction lists, and I believe that this is an issue that requires some attention to ensure that we do not sully the relationship between the EU and the Caribbean countries,” he stated.
The country’s leader also used the opportunity to address the EU threat to discontinue visa free access to Caribbean nations which offer Citizenship by Investment programmes.
“We are confident that our immigrant visa programmes are as transparent and as foolproof as any other, including those in Europe or North America.
“From that standpoint, we believe that this knee jerk reaction by the EU is totally unacceptable.
“I would accept that there are some residual risks associated with any immigrant visa programme because you can’t mitigate against all the risks, however, the risks associated with programmes in the Caribbean are sufficiently low and should not represent any security risk to the European Union,” he declared.
Prime Minister Browne urged Ambassador Stasek to use his “good offices” to make the case for Caribbean countries which are threatened by the EU’s position.
In an offer to further brief the ambassador on the issue, the prime minister promised to provide him with a copy of a paper he authored on the issue of de-risking.