Our murder rate now exceeds 400 and growing daily, our economy has suffered its worst quarterly decline in history, our health care system fails our most vulnerable, our overseas scholarship winners are starving because of mismanagement and all our clueless Prime Minister Keith Rowley can do is demonstrate his complete lack of understanding about multilateral diplomacy.
Dr Rowley who last evening criticized my meeting Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front party, clearly believes that confrontation, raging bull behavior, barking at everyone, and totally ignoring persons with differing opinions are the hallmarks of success in politics and diplomacy.
This proves not only an inability to prioritise on his part but his lack of understanding that the UN is a place where diplomats talk to everyone, listen to competing perspectives and question policies, even of persons on the other side of the political divide, in order to get a comprehensive idea of where the world is heading, the key players involved, the thinking behind policies and explore options to protect our national interest.
These were the reasons why I met Le Pen some years in company with some 17 other UN ambassadors including the then ambassador of St Vincent and the Grenadines Camilio Gonsalves now the Minister of Foreign Trade, Commerce and Information Technology.
Rowley’s criticisms of my meeting with Le Pen is absolute nonsense. It also proves that he does not have the skill set required to be a good leader, far less an effective Prime Minister.
None of us who attended that meeting with Le Pen supported her policies. We wished only to find out first hand why she was against immigrants in Europe, her response to accusations of racism and xenophobia and whether her views were in accord with principles of justice and fairness.
Ms Le Pen was at the time a Member of the European Parliament and then and now the president of the National Front a right wing conservative party in France.
Based on that meeting most of us determined that she is a person the world may someday have to reckon with given myriad economic and other challenges in France and in Europe.
Subsequent events proved us correct. We ignore right wing developments worldwide at our peril.
My report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the meeting indicated that we had to monitor carefully right wing developments in Europe especially in the context of Schengen visa waiver for our citizens, immigration, and our trade and European Development Fund arrangements with the EU as it responds to right wing attacks on its flank.
We do not wait on developments like the election of Donald Trump and hope for the best. Instead as any serious country, we assess likely future scenarios, difficult as they are, and plan for them in case they occur.
This Rowley administration practises reactive diplomacy.
They wait on Turkey to tell them the names of our citizens held in detention in that country.
Citizens can just disappear from this country and the Government does not have a clue of their departure.
They cannot say what is the status of our citizens detained in nearby Venezuela and when they will return.
They have no protocols in place to deal with the eventuality of criminal deportees returning from Trump’s USA even as we have cut subventions to Vision on Mission.
They are clueless on everything including when our foreign exchange will be totally depleted or when crime will be reduced.
Dr Rowley has failed in his mandate to govern this country, to deal with our challenges and provide hope for a brighter future. Their lack of plans and policies has the nation in a constant state of hopelessness, and I confident that the nation will send a message to this PNM Government on November 28th.