A review of the achievements of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2002
A GINA Feature by Beverley Alert
Guyana Chronicle
December 17, 2002

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THE year 2002 was one of significant achievement for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Through active diplomacy, the Ministry was able to guide the country towards improved relations with neighbours in the Region, the Hemisphere and the broader International Community.

Guyana participated in a number of Regional and International meetings and conferences, even hosting a few.

The thrust for the Ministry continued to be on ‘Preserving Guyana’s Territorial Integrity’, while there was emphasis on expanding bilateral and multi-lateral co-operation with a strong focus on economic progress.

With this focus in mind the Ministry aggressively pursued stronger and closer relations with our neighbours on the Continent.

In January, Suriname’s Minister of Foreign Relations Ms. Marie Levens paid a two-day working visit to Guyana where she met Minister Rudy Insanally.

At the end of the visit the two Ministers identified areas for co-operation between the two countries. These included education, agriculture, fisheries, and mining. The agenda for the next meeting of the Border Commission was also examined.

Most notably in the improved relations with Suriname was the Joint Declaration issued by Presidents Bharrat Jagdeo and Runaldo Venetiaan at the end of an official visit by President Jagdeo to Suriname.

The Declaration provides for a Border Commission to look at the best practices and modalities that could assist the Governments of both countries in the taking of a decision on eventual joint exploration of hydrocarbon resources.

The issue of Guyanese fishermen operating in the Corentyne River was addressed and over the year some amount of progress was made in this regard.

The Ministry continues its work on promoting closer co-operation and collaboration with the Government and people of Suriname.

In February, Venezuela’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Luis Alfonso Davila visited Guyana. At the end of his visit an agreement was signed paving the way for strengthening bilateral co-operation between Guyana and Venezuela.

During his visit, Ministers Davila and Insanally explored a number of areas for co-operation including the environment, culture, health, transportation, marine resources, drugs, trade and economic issues and the strengthening of consular services.

It was also decided to establish a technical committee for the proposed construction of a direct road link between Guyana and Venezuela.

The two countries also agreed to co-operate on issues pertaining to the Armed Forces and law enforcement agencies.

In November, Minister Insanally made a reciprocal visit at the invitation of his counterpart, the Honourable Roy Chaderton.

The Ministers held bilateral discussions on a number of issues, ranging from the Good Officer Process which both countries recommitted themselves to, and economic co-operation, agriculture, the environment and security.

During that visit, the Second Meeting of the Sub-Committees on Trade and Economic Co-operation and Environment and the Inaugural Meeting of the Sub-committee on agriculture were convened.

There was also the review of the remaining sub-committees and the Caracas Energy Co-operation Agreement. The Ministers also examined preparations for the Free Trade Area of the Americas, and reviewed the Treaty of Amazonian Co-operation, the Association of Caribbean States and G77.

In July, Venezuela’s Ambassador Jean Francois Pulvenis bade farewell to Guyana. Ambassador Pulvenis described his short stint here as “productive and pleasant.”

In March this year, Brazil’s President Enrique Cardoso made a one-hour stopover in Guyana. President Cardoso met with Prime Minister Samuel Hinds at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri. The two leaders discussed a number of issues including the Takutu Bridge and strengthening cultural links. President Cardoso was on his way back home after a visit to Panama.

In October, Foreign Minister Insanally was in Brazil where he held discussions on a number of issues that dealt with bilateral, Regional and Hemispheric matters.

On bilateral matters, discussions centred on consular collaboration, collaboration between border communities, security, control in the trafficking of narcotics and illicit activities across the border, inspection of border markers, areas for technical co-operation, transportation, and collaboration between political academics.

Brazil promised to provide Guyana with technical support in the area of HIV/ AIDS. It was also proposed that in this regard, a tripartite agreement with Guyana, Brazil and India be examined.

In July, Foreign Affairs Minister Insanally was in Ecuador for the Second Meeting of South American Presidents.

The concept of Guyana as the ‘Gateway to the South’ was promoted and generally accepted by the leaders. The Guyana/ Brazil road link was discussed with a view to furthering the project. In this regard a decision was taken for a technical team to visit Guyana.

There was the adoption of the South America Peace Zone Declaration, which banned the use of, or the threat of the use of force between States. The siting, development, manufacture, possession, deployment, testing and use of any type of mass destruction weapon were also banned.

This includes nuclear, chemical, biological and toxic weapons. Transportation of such weapons through the Region is also banned and countries of South America are committed to eradicating the use of antipersonnel mines.

A communiqué issued at the end of the meeting underscored the need for sustainable and progressive harmonisation of legal and technical frameworks, especially on matters of energy transport, interconnections, fuel specifications and similar instruments of energy sector trade in the Region.

This year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made significant contributions towards greater Caribbean unity.

The Ministry organised and spearheaded Guyana’s hosting of the 23rd Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community.

Held under the theme, “The Community at 30”, the Conference examined progress made on the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy and the Caribbean Court of Justice, the state of crime and security in the Community, Governance, the economy, and social and cultural issues of the Community.

Border issues and the Community in the International arena were also discussed.

Two days prior to the Conference eleven Heads, representatives of Regional Institutions including the Caribbean Development Bank, the Caribbean Congress of Labour, and the University of the West Indies among others met for a Civil Society Encounter.

Recommendations coming out of this meeting were forwarded to the Heads for their consideration.

Haiti deposited its instruments to become a full member of the Community at the Georgetown Conference.

Guyana now holds the chairmanship of CARICOM. This will be relinquished at the end of the year. Guyana announced that the contract for the construction of the CARICOM headquarters was signed. The contract was awarded to the local firm S. Nabi and Sons, is valued at $1.6 billion.

Before the July Conference, CARICOM leaders held their inter-sessional meeting in Belize in February. This was the first meeting of CARICOM Heads following the September terrorist attacks on the United States. Minister Insanally accompanied President Jagdeo to this meeting.

Trans-boundary organised crime, regional security, the impact of the September 11 attacks on the Region’s Tourism Industry and economy and progress on the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy were on the agenda.

There was also a brief meeting with US Secretary of State Colin Powell that looked at terrorism and new security measures for the Region.

During 2002, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was hard at work enhancing Guyana’s position with the broader international community.

In February Guyana hosted the Third Caribbean/ UK Forum. A strong British delegation headed by foreign Secretary Jack Straw and including Guyanese-born Minister, Baroness Valerie Amos, attended the Forum.

The Agenda for the April 3-5 meeting included a review of international development and their possible impact on Caribbean/UK relations, regional security and law enforcement, trade and economic sustainable development, finance and investment and the Caribbean/UK Agenda 2002-2004.

During the meeting Guyana and Britain signed a Transfer of Prisoners Agreement. This provides that nationals of both countries can serve their prison sentence in their native land.

The United Kingdom has also decided to fund a pilot study to stop the Guyana brain drain.

Guyana attended the Second European Union/Latin America Summit in Spain.

One of the main issues of interest for Guyana was the Sugar Protocol. Guyana sought Spain’s support for the continuation of the Sugar Protocol.

Other issues raised included the vulnerability of small states, the need to make international trading and financial systems more congenial for small economies, erosion of the Everything But Arms initiative, commitment to fight terrorism and the support to do so.

At the Summit, it was agreed that the CARICOM/Spain joint commission be set up. Two broad areas for co-operation were identified.

The first would address export promotion, tourism, fisheries and the environment. The second would look at promoting Spanish as a second language in CARICOM and the training of teachers.

Guyana urged that Spain be a non-borrowing member of the Caribbean Development Bank and offered Regional support for Spain’s candidature as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

During this year Guyana participated in the Commonwealth meeting in Australia. The Commonwealth Heads of Government reaffirmed their solidarity with Guyana in light of the continuing threat to its sovereignty and territorial integrity by Venezuela and regretted Guyana’s inability to fully exploit all its natural resources in the Essequibo region.

Guyana also participated in the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in South Africa. The meeting looked at developmental concern in the context of environmental protection and preservation. Over 60,000 delegates attended the meeting.

This year Guyana continued to participate in meetings of the Organisation of American States and the UN General Assembly.

During this year a number of countries accredited Ambassadors to Guyana. Among these were Egypt, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Algeria, China, the Dominican Republic, Russia and Turkey. New High Commissioners from Zimbabwe and Britain also presented Credentials, while for the first time diplomatic relations were established between Guyana and Singapore.

During the year the Ministry of Foreign Affairs worked at improving the quality of service provided by the Ministry.

A three-month training programme in communication and inter-personal relations was held for the staff of the Ministry.

The Ministry also appointed a new Director of the Foreign Service Institute in the person of Ambassador Harold Sahadeo.

The growing relationship between CARICOM and Cuba was climaxed when Cuba hosted for the first time, a summit of leaders of the 15-nation group.

The occasion was the celebration of 30 years of Cuba/CARICOM relations.

An important milestone was reached when Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo, who is the current CARIOCM Chairman, made the consensual Havana declaration calling on the US to lift economic sanctions imposed on Cuba four decades ago. (GOVERNMENT INFORMATION AGENCY)

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