PM Holds Bilateral Talks With Estonian President
Wednesday 27th February, 2019-Prime Minister Gaston Browne on Tuesday held bilateral talks with the President of the Republic of Estonia on the sidelines of the 30th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) held in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Mr. Browne thanked President Kersti Kaljulaid for the opportunity to engage the government of Antigua and Barbuda, and for the invitation extended to Minister Melford Nicholas regarding e-Government and IT solutions. The Prime Minister inquired about E-government and software development for which Estonia is renowned throughout the world. He acknowledged that due to this level of expertise, Estonia was perfectly poised to assist Antigua and Barbuda in its efforts to build capacity in ICT and the E-government platform.
The prime minister also made a request for additional scholarships to be extended to Antiguan and Barbudans, along with training for young persons, specifically in ICTs within the twin island state as a means of encouraging entrepreneurship. Of significant note the Antiguan and Barbudan head of government mentioned matters related to derisking and corresponding banking relations, a critical issue which impacts on the economic development of Antigua and Barbuda and the wider CARICOM. He called on President Kaljulaid to advocate on behalf of Antigua and Barbuda and the Caribbean Community for the support of the European Union (EU) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in coming to a swift compromise on these issues.
In response, President Kaljulaid stated she hopes to build upon existing relations between both nations. The President raised the issue of cyber security and the need for the region and the wider globe to address this matter which could pose a significant threat to global security. She also called for the Caribbean to develop a regional digital ID which would result in capacity development.
In concluding, remarks Prime Minister Browne suggested that Antigua and Barbuda should sign a cooperation agreement with Estonia, which was well received by President Kaljulaid. He also mentioned Antigua and Barbuda’s plans to utilize blockchain technology to further spur the growth of the economy and enhance services offered by the government. The Prime Minister further called for Estonia to establish an Embassy in Antigua and Barbuda which would lead to a greater presence of Estonia in the region.
The additional members of the delegation of Antigua and Barbuda consisted of the Honourable E.P. Chet Greene, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Immigration and Trade, His Excellency Colin Murdoch, Senior Advisor, Office of the Prime Minister, His Excellency Dr. Clarence Henry, Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to CARICOM and Mr. Kurt Williams, Foreign Service Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Immigration and Trade.