French Caribbean countries seeking integration

POINTE-À-PITRE, Guadeloupe: Closer integration of French Caribbean countries and territories with non-French speaking countries in the region is the focus of a conference currently being held here.

The first of its kind, Forum FDA (French Departments of the Americas), began on November 30 and will run until tomorrow, December 2, at Université des Antilles et de la Guyane (UAG).

In seeking greater regional integration of the French Departments (as the countries are called) with the wider Caribbean region, Forum FDA delegates are hoping to position the French West Indies as the “Mediterranean of the Americas”. 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 Guyana, 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,” said Xavier d’Arthuys of the Forum FDA Secretariat. “Regional integration must be managed while protecting and favouring its rich diversity.”

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 said, include research and development, ecological development, as well as artistic and cultural development.

A number of academics and professional experts from France, the French West Indies, Barbados, Cuba, Jamaica and Mexico are participating in the three-day conference, which was opened by Victorin Lurel, President of the Regional Council of Guadeloupe; Pascal Saffache, the President of UAG, and France’s Minister of Overseas Departments, Territories and Immigration, Marie-Luce Penchard.

The conference is being held at the campus of Fouillole (Amphitheatre Le Pointe, Salle du Conseil and Salle L of the Faculty of Law) in Pointe-à-Pitre where UAG is headquartered.

The Paris-based association, Al’Chimie, was commissioned by L’Année des Outre-Mer Français 2011 to organize Forum FDA, in partnership with UAG, the French Regional Institute of Cultural Affairs of Guadeloupe and the French Embassy in Saint Lucia.

For further information, including a copy of the conference program, email

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