Walton-Desir wants Government to adopt “sober and steady” Foreign policy; Notes delay in appointment of Ambassadors

Walton-Desir wants Government to adopt “sober and steady” Foreign policy; Notes delay in appointment of Ambassadors

Opposition Member of Parliament, Amanza Walton-Desir today put forward a five-point proposal to address the deficiencies within the country’s Foreign Policy, telling the National Assembly that it is unacceptable that Guyana to date has not appointed an Ambassador to Brazil, and is still without high level representation in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Russia, Switzerland, Belgium, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Suriname, at a time when Venezuela is forging ties with those near and far. 

As the National Budget Debates continued, MP Walton-Desir said now more than ever, Guyana needs “a sober, steady and well-studied approach” to its foreign policy, as it advances its position on the world stage as a petro-state, and responds to the ever-looming threat to its territorial integrity. 

She made a case for the Government to identify and effectively articulate Guyana’s Foreign Policy, particularly, in the context of the protection of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

MP Walton-Desir said while a foreign policy is intended to promote the national interest of the State, including the preservation of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, she is not convinced that the Government is aware of that fact. 

“I am not convinced that the Government is persuaded of this fact… because if they were Mr. Speaker, from 2020, and concurrently with the ICJ proceedings,  there would have been a sustained effort to keep the matter of Venezuela’s spurious claim in the forefront of all of our interactions, it would have pervaded the speeches and statements made by Guyana at every international forum at which we were given the opportunity to speak and we would be actively building alliances with groupings  and States that could lend support in the international legal order. Instead, what we have seen is a just in time, for the moment attitude that has come to characterise our foreign policy interactions. This must end!” the Opposition MP said. 

Walton-Desir told the House that the protection of Guyana’s territorial integrity requires perpetual vigilance, as she referenced the recent case of the surfacing of a photo with Prime Minister of St Vincent, Ralph Gonsalves, standing with a map of Venezuela which included Guyana’s Essequibo. The Foreign Ministry, she said ought to have been in the know. 

While underscoring the importance of having in place a well-thought-out and well-articulated foreign policy, MP Walton-Desir made a case for the establishment of a Foreign Relations Council. 

Turning attention to her second proposal, she said there is an urgent need for the country to reshape and enhance its relationship with other CARICOM states.

“It is to be recalled that it was in response to Guyana’s strength and stature in Caricom, that Venezuela established a foreign policy position to disrupt Guyana’s influence and relationships within CARICOM, and which resulted in initiatives such as Petro-Caribe. We must without delay have envoys actively working in the capitals of Caricom Member States, representing our interests, and providing regular feedback to Takuba Lodge. Guyana must never have to urge strong, unequivocal statements from Caribbean leaders,” she said. 

The Opposition Parliamentarian said it is regrettable that the High Commission in Trinidad and Tobago, which was established under the David Granger Government, has now been downgraded to a Consulate. 

Noting that it is important for Guyana to strengthen ties with countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, MP Walton-Desir told the House that it was her view that the deficient Argyle Declaration is the reflection of a failure of a continuous engagement with CARICOM.  

“And whilst Guyanese welcome the undertaking by Venezuela not to use force against Guyana, it must be noted that Venezuela is as we speak, proceeding with the passage of their organic law for the defence of what they call Guayana Esequiba, in direct violation of the Argyle agreement… Where is the outrage?  Venezuela continues to distribute official maps with our Essequibo included, yet there is silence,” MP Walton-Desir said. 

Meanwhile, while addressing the absence of “astute diplomacy”, she pointed to the absence of an Ambassador in Brazil – Guyana’s strongest continental ally.

To compound the situation, she said the country has no missions in Africa with the exception of South Africa, while Venezuela is courting African States individually and collectively. 

Further, she noted that since the removal of Charrandass Persaud, a new High Commissioner to India has not been appointed.

She also spoke about the importance of education and training, and development of the country’s international diplomatic corps, and the need to monitor international migration into Guyana with particular emphasis on the impact of the Venezuelan migrant crisis.  

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