By Charles Gladden
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. June 16, 2022
For the first time since he took office in November 2020, the Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. John Briceno, alongside the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Eamon Courtenay, met with members of the local media at the Laing Building in Belize City, on Wednesday, June 15, and at that press conference he announced he will be out of office for three weeks.
The PM’s extended absence from the country commences on Thursday, June 16, when he will embark on travels that will see him visit three continents to hold meetings with a number of international organizations. His first stop will be in Brussels, Belgium, where he will attend the EU Development Days Conference, to which only three other CARICOM leaders have been invited, and his last stop will be in Guyana, to which he will be making an official visit.
The objectives of Prime Minister Briceno’s international trip are to establish connections with the other Commonwealth countries, strengthen relationships face-to-face with the European Union partners, which play a crucial role in Belize’s development, and surrender chairmanship of CARICOM.
“I leave for the summit, and yes, it is early, because I will be in Brussels, where I have been invited to attend the EU Development Days Conference to discuss development issues. Only three CARICOM Heads have been invited: Belize, Dominica, and Trinidad and Tobago. In Brussels, I’ll be meeting with the EU heads of government, including the Prime Minister of Belgium. I’ll be pushing for the establishment of an EU delegation in Belize and continue our campaign for VISA-free access to the EU. As you all know, the EU is one of our largest donors and our second-largest trading partner,” PM Briceño told local media on Wednesday.
He further explained, “… From Brussels, Belgium, I go to Rwanda for the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Summit. There will be the election of the secretary-general. Foreign Minister Johnson Smith, and Baroness Scotland are vying for the post. We also have some bilateral lined up with Commonwealth partners. On the way back, I will stop off in Lisbon, Portugal for the World Oceans Summit. Here Belize will be featured for our successful negotiation on the Blue Bonds. I’l also going to be meeting with potential investors on the matter of renewable energy. We want to see how we can harness all that sargassum and turn it into electricity, so I’ll be having some meetings on this as well.”
“Finally, from Lisbon, I go to Suriname to hand over the chairmanship of CARICOM to the incoming president pro-temperate, President Santokhi of Suriname. The CARICOM Heads will be meeting over three days to discuss regional matters. Thereafter, [at] the invitation of President Ali, I travel to Guyana for an official visit,” concluded PM Briceño.
According to PM Briceno, the cost of his international travels will be covered by a number of international financial institutions.
During his absence, Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Cordel Hyde, will be acting as Prime Minister.
A press release issued this evening states, “The Office of the Prime Minister informs that the Hon. John Briceño departed the country, today, en route to Kigali, Rwanda, to attend the 22nd Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).”