We have abdicated CARICOM leadership under a foreign policy lacking leadership, vision and strategic direction
Former Director of UWI Institute of International Relations, Professor Andy Knight’s candid observation that our country, under Dr. Rowley and Foreign Minister Dennis Moses, has abdicated its CARICOM leadership role is absolutely correct.
It is also an admission, at the level of IR experts, that Trinidad and Tobago’s foreign policy is nonexistent, in shambles, with no strategic direction, and supported by a hollowed out and demoralized cadre of foreign service officers. To put it bluntly our foreign service is bereft of intellectual capacity and vision and not indicative of the professionalism and reputation of years past.
It is clear that our Ambassadors and High Commissioners are adrift in their respective missions with limited resources, no strategic direction and heavily circumscribed by bureaucracy under a clueless Dennis Moses. This minister was prepared to place our US ambassador under the bus and frustrated our Indian High Commissioner into premature resignation for not getting the required administrative support from Head Office.
Professor Knight further commented that there is a pattern of T&T taking a backseat in a number of areas for example at the OAS and at the UN.
Naparima MP, Rodney Charles, in commenting stated, “Dr Rowley has been missing in action at the last three Annual General Meetings of the UN General Assembly where global issues were discussed. Unlike 150 world leaders, he was a no show at the Paris Climate meeting. Our country was the last, in CARICOM, to ratify the climate change agreement.
We were completely ignored in visits to the region earlier this year by the former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
T&T was not invited to the recent Lima Group meeting in Peru where Venezuela was discussed. Our policy on Venezuelan relations has been very one sided and not even-handed. A change of government in Venezuela will place our energy agreements in jeopardy.
We are in for very interesting times when the new US Ambassador arrives given Rowley’s unstinting support for Maduro at the OAS and our incoherent foreign policy.
The government’s handling of Venezuelan refugees put TT on the UN’s radar when UN officials raised concerns about our repatriation of refugees. Our PM’s response was typical high handed, pavement diplomacy.
The government was unaware of, and did nothing to help, TT women and children in Iraq who were arrested for their relations to ISIS fighters. Not even providing minimal legal support for families as other countries did.
Guyana’s oil industry is growing, with production targeted to reach 500,000 barrels per day by 2020 and we are not in the forefront of this development with not even a High Commission in Georgetown.
We remain the only country in the world on the EU blacklist because of the actions or inaction of this PNM while smaller countries like St Kitts and Nevis and Barbados have been able recently to be removed from the list.
The OAS Dominica debacle and most recently the delay in signing a CSME protocol are all part of a continuing saga of slothfulness and incompetence.
Professor Knight’s statement shows, contrary to what Rowley might think, that the international community is keeping track of his shortcomings and are wondering what misfortune has come over this country since September 2015.
MP for Naparima