Vienna, 17 November 2008 – "The effects of climate change are posing great challenges for the Caribbean countries, especially for small island states. Austria is aware of these risks and effects. Therefore, we take a particular interest in providing even greater support to the Caribbean, not only in international climate protection negotiations, but also on a bilateral level, in the area of energy security and supply, as well as disaster management", said State Secretary Hans Winkler following his meeting with the Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Edwin Carrington.
The Austrian engagement in the Caribbean is a continuation of the intensified cooperation with the region since the EU-Latin America Summit in Vienna in 2006. Special attention was given to exploiting synergy effects with activities already in place. "Energy security and supply, development of alternative energy forms, combating illicit drug trafficking, effective and sustainable development aid, compliance with human rights, and effective multilateralism are areas in which Austria has been actively engaged for years. At the same time, these areas also reflect the prevailing problems and needs of the region. Therefore, Austria supports several cooperation projects either directly or through international or regional organizations, and, while focusing our cooperation on CARICOM, we make sure that the programs apply comprehensively to all Caribbean countries", said the State Secretary.
Austria’s engagement in the Caribbean is also reflected on a multilateral level, where - with a particular focus on the UN Agencies based in Vienna such as UNIDO, UNODC, and CTBTO – it supports projects for the Caribbean which aim at the conversion to an ecologically sustainable agriculture, access to new technologies for SMEs, and the fight against organized crime, corruption, and drug trafficking.
Winkler described CARICOM as a young, dynamic example for successful regional cooperation with a great potential. "The recent signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and CARICOM will contribute to improving economic development and closer integration in the global economy. During the negotiations, we always took the position that this must primarily represent an instrument of development assistance. The successful outcome of the negotiations, however, must not be diminished by an inadequate or too slow implementation of the agreement", said Winkler.
CARICOM was founded in 2001 and comprises 15 Caribbean states. The majority of the member states are also members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), which are significantly affected by the expected rise in sea levels, and are therefore showing great interest in close cooperation in the area of climate and energy on a technical and scientific level.
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