Kaieteur News news item, Saturday 18 April 2009
Guyana's foreign policy leaves much to be desired - Norton
Executive Member of the People's National Congress Reform and the party's
Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister, Aubrey Norton, during a recent press
briefing told media operatives that for sometime now his party has withheld
commenting on the conduct of the foreign policy of the nation.
"The Party assumed that, overtime, the Jagdeo Administration would have seen
the necessity for crafting a coherent and effective foreign policy,
subserved by the required institutional support...Sadly, the Party
recognises that it has been very wrong."
According to Norton, the drift and confusion that has been the hallmark of
the conduct of foreign policy since the PPP took office has continued
unabated, and if the situation remains unchanged, it is likely to continue
to jeopardise the national interest in the region and beyond.
He added that what was the most alarming feature of the conduct of foreign
policy is the apparent institutional shift from the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs to the Office of the President.
Norton said that, "Unfortunately, the Office of the President seems to be
conducting the nation's diplomacy at the whims and fancies of President
Jagdeo...Ever so often, the nation is informed of some initiative or the
proposed visit of the President overseas without being told in what
framework such diplomatic activity is taking place."
He added that what is even sadder is the fact that, after the activity is
complete, the nation is given very little information as to its actual
nature and outcome.
According to Norton, a press conference is hardly a sufficient basis for
informing the nation about any important diplomatic exercise or visit.
"The PNCR also expresses its concern about the manner in which the diplomacy
of the nation is being conducted...megaphone diplomacy is hardly the best
method to treat with fellow Heads of State, especially those of the
Caribbean Community (Caricom)."
Norton said that his party spent decades, while in Government, building and
strengthening relations with sister Caricom countries.
"Regrettably, we cannot remain silent as this foundation is threatened by
the lack of the requisite diplomatic finesse.... We urge President Jagdeo to
use the well tried and tested methods of diplomacy, such as prudence and
sensitivity, when he is dealing with the Heads of State of Caricom."
The shadow Finance Minister emphasized that language, which falls just short
of abuse, is hardly the best method of conducting relations with the
distinguished Caribbean Heads of State. "Overtime this could end in
isolation," he opined.
Norton emphasized that the Jagdeo Administration should have already set
out, in a clear and documented format, what the foreign policy of the nation
is, especially in such critical areas as the Caribbean Community and our
important relationships with the states in Latin America, Asia, the Middle
East and Europe.
The PNCR Member of Parliament lambasted the government for their lack of
diplomatic presence in strategic countries around the world that would lay
the foundation for effective Presidential visits.
Norton was also critical of the minimal finance invested in the Foreign