All : Familiarisation Visit for Overseas Territories Director
Submitted by (Juanita Brock) 25.03.2010 (Article Archived on 08.04.2010)
Mr Colin Roberts, Director of the Overseas Territories Directorate has come to the Falklands on a familiarisation visit.
Photo (c) J. Brock (FINN) Colin Roberts at Government House on Wednesday
FAMILIARISATION VISIT FOR OVERSEAS TERRITORIES DIRECTOR
By J. Brock (FINN)
Mr Colin Roberts, Director of the Overseas Territories Directorate has come to the Falklands on a familiarisation visit. He will be exploring security and good governance issues in the Falklands as well as finding out about those issues in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Mentioning world class Fisheries Management Mr Roberts said it was important to keep quality in fisheries management and to communicate that quality to the international press.
He also focused on hydrocarbons and reassuring the Falkland Islanders of their right to develop their own hydrocarbons industry. He also is looking at the demining progress and is keen to have its success widely reported. An opportunity to report on demining will happen on Thursday when there will be a public confidence exercise in the newly cleared Sapper Hill Mine Field.
Another remit is to look at public finances and he mentioned that the Falklands were comparatively unscathed in the present economic down-turn the world is facing. He mentioned pressures on the public purse but compared with other British Overseas Territories we are better off.
Mr Roberts says that the Falklands are high on the priority list when it comes to official visits and new Ministers are slotted in whenever there is a gap in the visiting programme. Thus far in his visit he has attended a reception at Government House where he met a wide cross section of the community. Today he met with Members of Legislative Assembly and he assured them that they had support from HMG at the highest level. Later on Wednesday he spent time listening to and gathering information from members of the Chamber of Commerce. After lunch he had a press conference with the Falklands’ media.
FINN asked Mr Roberts about the official HMG response to British Overseas Territories from the Caribbean agreeing to the Argentine stance with reference to the Falkland Islands at the most recent meeting of the RIO Group. Mr Roberts said that HMG very quickly communicated their ‘disappointment’ over the incident. He went on to say that the Caribbean Commonwealth Members as well as British Overseas Territories were unaware of the significance of signing and indeed some expressed anger when they found out what they had done. They had signed the communiqué without realising the consequences and were now distancing themselves from the whole affair.
For the St Helena Herald Mr Roberts was asked about the view HMG takes about a proposed federation between the Islands in the South Atlantic as well as British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean. He said that it was policy to encourage trade and communications between the remote territories in the South Atlantic. He also mentioned that the Caribbean countries and territories advocated rather strongly an airport for St Helena. Generally he gave a thumbs-up on the idea.
He added that this week Dick Sawle would be at the European Community meeting of Overseas Territories and that it was important that there be links between them and the European Union as well as between each other. The Falklands, he said, were in a good position to lead the way in innovative links with the European Union resulting in unique opportunity to work with them. Working together generally means finding common ground and working to strengthen ties.
It was important to use newspapers and other media as an effective way to spread the Falklands’ message and point of view, especially to the European Union.
He also mentioned the significance of elected Members being our spokespersons overseas and he said that Mrs Jan Cheek, MLA did a sterling job in writing a response to Matthew Paris in the Times. It was also hugely important to have elected Members’ representation at the United Nations Committee of 24. They are excellent advocates for us.