Grenada says it will not be rushed into signing Samoa agreement
ST GEORGE’S, Grenada (CMC) – The Grenada Government Wednesday said that it would not be rushed into signing the Samoa Agreement that will serve as an overarching legal framework for the relationship between the European Union (EU) and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) for the next 20 years.
The agreement was signed last Wednesday in Apai and succeeds the Cotonou Agreement. It covers subjects such as sustainable development and growth, human rights and peace and security.
The provisional application of the agreement will start on January 1, 2024. It will enter into force upon consent by the European Parliament and ratification by all EU member states and at least two thirds of the 79 OACPS members.
Dominica and Jamaica have since indicated that they would be signing the accord that has raised concerns in several quarters, including the Roman Catholic Church “amid fears that it will impose laws on Caribbean people that are not in keeping with the culture and values”.
Trinidad and Tobago Roman Catholic Archbishop Jason Gordon said that while the agreement is “written as a trade agreement and an agreement of support, financially, etc, for the African Caribbean and Pacific nations, embedded in that agreement and when it is signed it is for 20 years and cannot be revoked …is anyone who signs that agreement will have abortion legislation in their countries.
“They will have to impose abortion legislation, transgender, LBGTQ, comprehensive sex education; a whole range of values will be imposed because of the signing of that document,” he added.
But speaking at a news conference here on Wednesday, both Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Export Development Joseph Andall told reporters that St George’s would not be rushed into signing any agreement that contains issues of morality.
Andall said that “there is a window for countries to sign” after indicating that some Caricom countries have not affixed their signature to the accord.
“Grenada, for sure, is not willing to surrender its sovereignty to any international organisation and if there is any part and proposed agreement inconsistent with our constitution and with our values we will think very long and hard before entering into any such agreement,” Andall told reporters.
Prime Minister Mitchell said international agreements or not, morality and values are to a large extent designed by the culture of any particular country or region.
“So questions raised by the comments of the Archbishop, I think, are always questions for debate,” said Mitchell, an attorney, adding, “I want to say morality is a private issue… we have to bear that in mind.
“Certainly in the context of the region, we have had separation of church and state a long time ago… and from a public perspective the government deals with law and what’s legal and not legal.
“And so we have to be careful that we do not blue the line between private morality and law. And I certainly think, from our perspective, the morality of other countries is not something that should be imposed on the morality of countries, nor in my view it should be tied to aid.”
He said it would essentially mean that other countries are trying to impose either their morality, and their public policy on other countries by tying it to aid.
“Philosophically that is not something we support. Our approach is, if countries intend to engage in grant funding, aid funding or loans with us, those are commercial matters and from our perspective it is commercial terms that should govern them.
“If you attempt to impose what I would call morality issues into them, then I think certainly from our perspective… it is not likely that this government would simply sign because we need to get some grant funding or aid funding.”
Mitchell said that while the archbishop’s views are “obviously his and the sense I got from his comments is… I myself have not yet read the agreement, so I can’t tell you whether the agreement says the things people are saying.
“I suspect at the end of the day our technocrats and bureaucrats will go through the agreement and be in the best position to tell us exactly what the agreements actually state,” Mitchell added.