Panama convenes ministerial meetings of 18 Central American/Caribbean Countries and the EU

On May 3, Panamanian Foreign Minister Erika Mouynes convened foreign ministers from 18 Central American and Caribbean countries, along with EU Lead Diplomat Josep Borrell, to work towards common solutions to the issues facing the region today including climate change, economic recovery from the pandemic, international financing, and in particular, impacts stemming from the war in Ukraine. Borrell deemed Panama a “strategic aeronautic, logistical, and economic hub” for Europe-Latin America cooperation. Proving this point, this meeting was the first time that many ministers from a single region were brought together to address the war in Ukraine’s consequences collectively.  

The meeting took place in the context of Panama’s Pro Tempore Presidency of the Central American Integration System, which has spearheaded efforts to promote democratic ideals and cooperation in areas of mutual interest. Its proposals will be presented to the G20 and other multilateral forums.  

The invasion of Ukraine and its global impacts continued to be the foremost concern for leaders, with the Caribbean Community Bloc and the Central American Integration System (CAIS) both rebuking Russian aggression. Minister Mouynes, as President Pro Tempore of CAIS, asserted that the body “strongly (condemns) the use of force and violence.” 

As a co-founder of the Alliance for Development in Democracy, Panama has made defending the principles of democratic rule, national sovereignty, and humanitarianism central to its foreign policy approach.  

EU High Representative Borrell praised Latin America’s commitment to standing up for democratic values, welcoming “the clear position that Latin America as a whole, and in particular Central America and the Caribbean, has had in condemning Russian aggression against Ukraine.” 

Regional leaders collaborated with EU High Representative Borrell to create a joint proposal for addressing these impacts, including the creation of the first regional working group in the world dedicated to mitigating the economic consequences of the war through cooperation. Going forward, regional leaders and the EU will hold annual ministerial consultations to evaluate the challenges the region faces stemming from the war in Ukraine and how they can address them collectively.  

At the end of the meeting, EU High Representative Borrell announced that Panama will become home to a regional database for the European Space Program’s Copernicus initiative, which aims to provide accurate, up-to-date, and easily accessible information to improve environmental stewardship and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Panama was chosen to host this database due to its unique geographical and strategic position, enabling it to share information across the region on urgent issues like an early response to natural disasters. Borrell lauded the move, emphasizing that it will “help the entire region in its preparedness for natural disasters.” 

As one of only three carbon-negative countries in the world and a regional and global leader in conservation, Panama is well equipped to take this leadership role in climate mitigation. On this issue and others, Panama looks forward to continuing to convene leaders to address common problems.  

“Panama continues to lead on sensitive issues,” said Minister Mouynes. “We will continue with this country’s agenda, internationalizing and articulating our foreign policy of dialogue and consensus for the sustainable development of nations, in peace, security, and equity.”