Statement By Honourable Julian R. Hunte, Visit to Martinique - August 13, 2002
Home Up Address by Hon. Senator Julian R. Hunte, OBE to the 59th Session of the United Nations General Assembly – New York, September 24, 2004 Hon. Senator Julian R. Hunte, OBE On The Occasion Of The Awarding Of The Knight Of The Grand Cross Pian Order Remarks by the President of the General Assembly H.E. Mr. Julian R. Hunte at the Opening of the General Debate - 23 September 2003 Remarks by Senator Julian Hunte at Opening of Workshop for Parliamentarians on the Multi-Lateral Trading System - August 5, 2003 STATEMENT AT 57th SESSION  OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY - SEPTEMBER 18th 2002 Statement By Honourable Julian R. Hunte, Visit to Martinique - August 13, 2002



Following intense lobbying by the Government of St. Lucia, it was agreed that a Visa Waiver Regime be introduced from March 2000 for an initial period to be followed by a review, to facilitate St. Lucians travelling to Martinique and the other French Overseas Departments of the region for durations not exceeding fifteen (15) days.

Since the commencement of the Regime there has been a significant increase in the number of St. Lucians travelling to Martinique. Data obtained from the French revealed that in the first 12 months of the regime’s operation, there were 27,081 St. Lucians travelling to Martinique, representing an increase of 117% or more than double the amount for the previous year.

It is clear therefore that the Visa Waiver Regime has had a significant impact in facilitating travel between St. Lucia and Martinique, and large numbers of St. Lucians have benefited and continue to benefit from the regime.

It is with great concern however, that the attention of the government of St. Lucia has been drawn to a number of developments that have served as obstacles to the smooth functioning, or even continuation of the regime. The French Authorities have drawn to the Government’s attention that a significant number of persons (some 10%) of entrants) were not registered as having left Martinique. In addition, it appeared that many persons were using the Visa Waiver Regime to the extent that they were more resident in Martinique than in St. Lucia. Further, a significant number of persons continued to enter Martinique through unofficial points such as Marinas and beaches, while significant numbers continued to be engaged in criminal activity in Martinique. It has been revealed that up to last week, there were 64 St. Lucians in prison in Martinique.

The situation is serious enough to have warranted two (2) meetings being held here last week to discuss the issues.

At the first meeting, Prime Minister Dr Kenny D. Anthony, myself as Minister for External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation and H.E. Anthony Severin, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in the Office of the Prime Minister, met with H.E. Mr Henry Vidal, Ambassador of France to St. Lucia to review the implementation of the Visa Waiver Regime currently in place for St. Lucians travelling to Martinique and other French Overseas departments of the Americas.

At that meeting, the Prime Minister placed on record the appreciation of the Government and people of St. Lucia for the Visa Waiver Regime instituted by the government of France.

He noted that the relationship between Martinique and St. Lucia was held in very high regard by the people of both countries and expressed the view that the Visa Waiver Regime had helped to strengthen economic and cultural ties between both peoples. He assured the French Government that the Government and law abiding people of St. Lucia would want nothing to obstruct or harm the special relationship that had developed between the two countries.

This was followed last Wednesday by a visit to Martinique by a delegation led by myself as Minister of External Affairs and including officials of my Ministry to hold discussions with the Prefect on these matters.

At that meeting, I took the opportunity to stress the importance of the new arrangements for St. Lucians travelling to Martinique for bona fide reasons, and lamented the fact that problems were being experienced. The Prefect highlighted the need to sign the proposed bilateral Agreement for the return of persons found to be in either territory illegally. Further discussions are to be held on this issue.

It is in the best interest of St. Lucia to ensure the unhindered operation of the Visa Waiver by ensuring that the negative elements be kept out of Martinique and that punitive measures be adopted for those who do not comply.

Let me take the opportunity to appeal to St. Lucians to ensure that nothing is done to cause the situation to deteriorate further.

Ministry of External Affairs, International Trade & Civil Aviation
August 13, 2002


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