Sen. Slater addresses Vincentians at a town hall meeting in Brooklyn, New York.

NEW YORK — Minister of Foreign Affairs Sen. Douglas Slater has recently returned to St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) after official trips to Belgium, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Indonesia.

In Brussels, Belgium, Slater attended the Joint Council of Cooperation and Development Ministers of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) group of states.

He then participated in the 16th Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Bali, Indonesia.

Following that, Slater addressed the United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS and also held a town hall meeting with members of the Vincentian Diaspora in Brooklyn, New York.

Slater was elected to be a vice president of the Ministerial Meeting of the NAM. SVG was the only Caribbean Community country and the smallest nation to be elected as a vice president. Slater was also asked to address the closing ceremony of the NAM meeting on behalf of all Latin American and Caribbean countries.

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Both of the Minister’s speeches at NAM were widely praised by participants at the meeting, SVG’s U.N. Mission said in a press statement.

“Today, we are not faced with a bipolar balance of competing ideologies and rival armies of equal might. Instead, our modern challenge is the creeping orthodoxy of a few large powers, whose military and economic might often combine to impose political, economic and developmental straightjackets on much of the developing world,” Slater said at the meeting.

“We in the NAM must resist this new challenge with every bit of the vigour and solidarity that informed our earlier struggles and triumphs,” he added, saying that the NAM was “was formed in the Cold War in response to specific threats.

“But the fact that those threats have dissipated or evolved does not mean that our movement is less significant today. Because while the issues of the day may change, the principles upon which our movement is based are timeless. It is in a return to those foundational principles, applied to modern challenges, that our Movement will continue to grow and strengthen in our peoples’ collective interest,” he said.

The Joint ACP-EU Ministerial Meeting in Brussels discussed trade cooperation, migration and development, and development finance cooperation between and among the European Union and the countries of Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean.

The ACP-EU Council of ministers is the main decision-making body of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, signed in June 2000 in Cotonou and revised for the second time in 2010. Its main instrument for development aid is the European Development Fund (EDF), with the 10th EDF providing 22.7 billion Euros to African, Caribbean and Pacific states between 2008 and 2013.

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At the United Nations, Slater – a physician and former Minister of Health — called for a “prevention revolution” in confronting HIV/AIDS. He told the United Nations that innovative financing, development assistance, and wider access to generic drugs were also key to confronting the disease.

“St. Vincent and the Grenadines believes that the response must at all times take a holistic approach to the many health challenges that confront us. We must at all times strive to promote sociological concepts such as human rights of citizens and also the dignity of our women and girls,” he said.

“We believe that [people living with AIDS] have a right and certainly the responsibility to be included and firmly involved in the AIDS response process. Reliable research data should be utilized to guide targeted interventions in populations that are the main drivers of the transmission. St. Vincent and the Grenadines reiterates its commitment to pursue efforts to minimize HIV-related stigma and discrimination.”

Meanwhile, Slater was the keynote speaker at a town hall meeting in Brooklyn, New York, which was also addressed by Glen Beache, CEO of the SVG Tourism Authority. Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves and Deputy Consul General Edson Augustus also spoke at the town hall meeting.

In a wide-ranging address, Slater discussed the recent flooding in St. Vincent, the development of the international airport, the global economic crisis, and the One Laptop Per Child Initiative.

Beache also addressed Airport development, as well as other matters related to tourism in SVG. Both Beache and Slater answered questions from the audience.