By Stephen Kangal
November 26, 2014
An underlying worrisome diplomatic situation exists today in five of T&T’s Overseas Missions. Diplomatic relations are conducted in accordance with the principle and practices of reciprocity and the comity of Nations. In India, UK, Costa Rica, Canada at the UN T&T representation has been scaled down to the level of junior but also inexperienced young and up-coming diplomats. This resulted from the withdrawal of both career and political appointed Ambassadors.
The PP is telegraphing that their own politically-appointed, in-experienced former Heads are dispensable; their work mandate can be done equally well if not better by inexperienced FSO’s I and II’s with at most three years of experience in the diplomatic field..
To operate five Missions accredited to our principal trading partners/UN without a duly accredited, substantive High Commissioner/Ambassador in place downgrades the tenour of our foreign policy.
This diplomatic faux pas and untenable situation lasted most of 2014, It will persist throughout 2015 because of the General Elections. It will be prolonged for two years until the beginning of 2016.
Has the PP/PM/ Minister of Foreign Affairs addressed the following adverse implications for our bilateral relations, diplomatic sensitivity and reciprocity especially with three states that have had a long history of diplomacy namely UK, India and Canada:
- It is an insulting and very undiplomatic act meted out to the host or receiving state to have our junior diplomatic officers from five of our important Missions interfacing with the officials of the respective Ministries of Foreign Affairs and their resident Diplomatic Corps;
- It telegraphs that our bilateral relations with the respective states/International organisations concerned are not important enough to merit reciprocity in the appointment of a fully accredited replacement with full powers to speak on behalf of T&T for a long period.
- Our officials of junior rank without full powers can only treat with junior receiving state officials ad referendum to POS as to what was discussed and this diplomatic imbalance/inequality will be frowned upon in the respective capitals to our mutual detriment and that of the large T&T diaspora resident in Canada and UK;
- T&T will be placed almost at the bottom of the List of Precedence in the five receiving states/organisations just after we made a high profile diplomatic and ministerial intervention at the recent UN General Assembly at the United Nations;
- Our lowly and low-ranking diplomatic presence in diplomatically sensitive India with the advent of the new Modi Administration in office does not augur well for the development of fruitful relations with the new regime.
- It suggests that outside of Mr. Chandardath Singh who at one time straddled both Beijing and New Delhi, we, that is T&T with a proud and enviable history and reputation of diplomatic achievements do not have or have not produced anyone with the right political/UNC connections to fill the embarrassing diplomatic void now gaping in India.
- Never in the diplomatic history and annals of Mother T&T have I heard of a non-diplomatic Financial Attache acting as an Ambassador in any of our Missions abroad with FSO One’s and Two’s being parachuted into Heads of Missions as if we are running parlours and internet cafes in these capitals abroad.
- This regressive scenario conveys the message that the Foreign Relations of T&T conducted through our Overseas Missions are low in the national scheme/priority of things in spite of the frenetic pace at which inexperienced, political appointees/political failures at home were decanted in droves into posts at our Foreign Missions by the PP in a mad scramble to politicize the Foreign Service.
Let it be noted that High Commissioner Singh was transferred to Beijing directly from New Delhi and was never recalled to POS as stated by Minister Dookeran.