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February 16, 2006

Local activities to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) will be unveiled today.

This following a meeting between St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister the Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas and the Director General of the OECS, Her Excellency Dr. Len Ishmael.

Dr. Ishmael meets with Prime Minister Douglas as part of a tour of Member States to meet with Heads of Government to discuss issues of critical importance regarding the operation of the St. Lucia-based Secretariat and activities planned for the Silver Anniversary Celebrations to mark the Signing of the Treaty of Basseterre.

Following the meeting, Prime Minister Douglas and the OECS Director General will unveil the planned local and sub-regional activities to mark the milestone at a Press Conference around mid-day.

The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) came into being on June 18th 1981, when seven Eastern Caribbean countries signed a treaty agreeing to cooperate with each other and promote unity and solidarity among the Members. The Treaty became known as the Treaty of Basseterre, so named in honour of the capital city of St. Kitts and Nevis where it was signed.

Following the collapse of the West Indies Federation, and prior to the signing of the Treaty of Basseterre, two caretaker bodies were created: the West Indies Associated States Council of Ministers (WISA) in 1966 and the Eastern Caribbean Common Market (ECCM) in 1968.

As the islands gained their independence from Britain it became evident that there was need for a more formal arrangement to assist with their development efforts.

It was at the WISA Meeting in St. Lucia, chaired by St. Kitts and Nevis Premier, the Hon. C. A. Paul Southwell, on June 18th 1979, that the decision was taken to create the OECS. Southwell died following the meeting.

So it was that the OECS was established. The WISA Secretariat became the central secretariat of the OECS and the ECCM, the Economic Affairs Secretariat.

In mid 1997, as a result of restructuring of the organisation the Economic Affairs Secretariat was merged into and became a Division of the OECS Secretariat in St Lucia.

The OECS is now a nine member grouping comprising Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands are associate members of the OECS.

Treaty of Basseterre Signatories are: Hon. Lester Bird – Antigua and Barbuda;

Hon. Eugenia Charles – Dominica; Hon Maurice Bishop – Grenada; Hon. Franklyn Margetson – Montserrat; Hon. Dr. Kennedy Simmonds- St. Kitts and Nevis; Hon. Winston Cenac – St. Lucia and Hon. Hudson Tannis – St Vincent and the Grenadines.

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