KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Friendly nations partnering to build the international airport at Argyle have reconfirmed their support for the project, says Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
Gonsalves last week travelled to New York, where he attended the 66th United Nations General Assembly. He also met with several world leaders who “either reaffirmed previous commitments to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, or made new pledges of cooperation with the government,” the country’s diplomatic mission in New Work said in a press statement.
The Prime Minister was also invited to pay official visits to Kuwait, Georgia and Palestine to explore additional avenues of support and solidarity, the statement said.
Gonsalves told Vincentians at a town hall meeting in New York on Saturday that the “coalition of countries” has reaffirmed their support for the EC$652 million airport project.
He noted that so far this country has received direct contributions from Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico, Iran, Libya, Trinidad and Tobago, and Austria and directly contributions from Turkey, through the CARICOM Development Fund.
“… when I go to talk to people like Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan of Turkey, I just don’t talk about St. Vincent [alone]. I talk about the CARICOM Development Fund, too. Because what I don’t get directly, I could get another way,” he said to applause at the town hall meeting.
“… all those coalitions there are in order. Libya, you know, is in tumult now so we have to wait until that settle down, but all the other reconfirmed their support – everyone! And new prospective players have come aboard, including Kuwait and Qatar,” Gonsalves further told the gathering of Vincentians.
Meanwhile, the country’s diplomatic mission, in its press statement, said the “Coalition of the Willing” – the terms Gonsalves often uses to describe nations supporting the airport — is on the verge of welcoming two new partners.
The President of Georgia and the Prime Minister of Kuwait “expressed strong interest in assisting SVG with the airport project,” the statement said.
According to the statement, Georgia, which produces a variety of heavy earth-moving equipment, indicated its willingness to provide relevant machinery to the project while the Prime Minister of Kuwait also committed his government to exploring the best avenues for partnership on the airport.
Both Georgia and Kuwait invited Gonsalves to pay official visits to their countries to further this cooperation.
Meanwhile, the new Prime Minister of Portugal, Pedro Passos Coelho, said his administration would honour the commitment of the previous Portuguese government to continue the delivery of laptops to Vincentian student under Kingstown’s one-laptop-per-child programme.
Coelho pledged to expedite the delivery of the remainder of the 30,000 laptops Portugal promised.
Further, Gonsalves has secured undergraduate and and postgraduate scholarship offers from Hungary and Slovenia.
The precise courses and institutions that will offer these scholarships will be finalized in the coming months.
Further, Qatar, which hosts campuses of a number of major American universities, also renewed its offer of scholarships to Vincentian students, the statement said.