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French Caribbean departments focus on integration

Monday, 28 November 2011 12:00 Written by  font size decrease font size decrease font size increase font size increase font size

POINTE-A-PITRE, Guadeloupe -- The closer integration of French Caribbean departments with non-French speaking countries and territories in the region is the focus of a conference in Guadeloupe this week.

The first conference of this nature, called Forum FDA (French Departments of the Americas), is slated for November 30 to December 2, 2011, at Université des Antillles et de la Guyane (UAG) in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, in the French West Indies.

In seeking greater regional integration of the French departments with the wider Caribbean region, Forum FDA delegates will also look to position the French West Indies as the "Mediterranean of the Americas". In so doing delegates will aim to position the French Caribbean as a center for training, professional development, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.

The French Departments of the Americas include French Guiana, Guadeloupe and Martinique, while St Barthélemy and St Martin are considered territories.

"Today it is necessary to redraw our borders and to engage with the American continents to the north and the south, by learning about our history and by investigating the future of this melting pot of civilization and development -- regional integration must be managed while protecting and favouring its rich diversity," said Xavier d'Arthuys of the Forum FDA Secretariat.

The French Caribbean has an important role to play, he added, and must find a way to work more closely with their Caribbean neighbours regardless of linguistic heritage. Other areas for cooperation and collaboration, he asserted, included research and development, ecological development, as well as artistic and cultural development.

Numerous academics and professional experts from France, the French West Indies, Barbados, Cuba, Jamaica and Mexico will be participating in the three-day conference, which will be opened by Victorin Lurel, president of the Regional Council of Guadeloupe; Pascal Saffache, UAG's president, as well as Marie-Luce Penchard, French Minister of Overseas Departments, Territories and Immigration.
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