French islands look to deepen regional cooperationPOSTED: 11/28/11 8:41 AM
POINTE-A-PITRE/MARIGOT – The closer integration of French Caribbean Departments with non-French speaking countries and territories in the region is the focus of a conference in Guadeloupe that begins today. The meeting, which is being held for the first time and is called Forum FDA (French Departments of the Americas) is slated for November 30 to December 2 at Université des Antillles et de la Guyane (UAG).
Forum FDA delegates will also look to position the French West Indies as the “Mediterranean of the Americas” as part of the effort to seek greater regional integration of the French Departments with the wider Caribbean. Delegates from French Guyana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Barthélemy and St. Martin will aim to position the French Caribbean as a center for training, professional development, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.
“Today it is necessary to redraw our borders and to engage with the American continents to the North and the South, by learning about our history and by investigating the future of this melting pot of civilization and development – regional integration must be managed while protecting and favouring its rich diversity,” Xavier d’Arthuys of the Forum FDA Secretariat said.
“The French Caribbean has an important role to play and must find a way to work more closely with their Caribbean neighbors regardless of linguistic heritage. Other areas for cooperation and collaboration included research and development, ecological development, as well as artistic and cultural development,” he added.
Numerous academics and professional experts from France, the French West Indies, Barbados, Cuba, Jamaica and Mexico will be participating in the three-day conference, which will be opened by Victorin Lurel, President of the Regional Council of Guadeloupe; Pascal Saffache, UAG’s President, as well as Marie-Luce Penchard, French Minister of Overseas Departments, Territories and Immigration.
The Paris-based association Al’Chimie has been commissioned by L’Année des Outre-Mer Français 2011 to organize Forum FDA, in partnership with UAG, the French Regional Institute of Cultural Affairs of Guadeloupe, and the French Embassy in Saint Lucia.