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May 7, 2010
PM dismisses Eustace’s UN statements as ‘rubbish’

A formal announcement regarding this country’s quest for a seat on the United Nations’ Security Council is expected to be made today or tomorrow.{{more}}

This is the latest development in the story which began last Thursday, April 29, when Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace said on radio that a formal announcement had been made by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves at the CARICOM – Brazil Summit held in Brasilia about this country’s candidacy for a seat on the UN Security Council.

However, the prime minister insists that a definite decision has not yet been reached and that what has been misinterpreted as a formal statement is this country presenting its case.

“What we are doing is an exploration of a probable candidacy,” Gonsalves told SEARCHLIGHT.

“There is a particular procedure where we will have to inform the general UN body that we are offering ourself as a candidate,” Gonsalves said.

According to Gonsalves, the process started a few weeks ago when he was contacted by Camillo Gonsalves, this country’s permanent representative to the United Nations, indicating that he had been approached by other delegates encouraging this country to make a bid for a seat on the UN’s Security Council.

“Members of the UN know St Vincent’s foreign policy is an exceptional one. We are a small island nation and our work is good and that it would be good to have an independent voice,” the Prime Minister explained, adding that this country was encouraged to oppose Columbia, which up until now is the only nation seeking to represent the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean in the now vacant spot.

A memorandum was prepared outlining the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of a Vincentian bid for further exploration and, according to Gonsalves, the position was then put to Cabinet.

The Prime Minister disclosed that the issue was first raised among his colleague Heads of Government at the OECS – ECCB Monetary Council meeting held in Antigua last month with the intention of again raising it at the CARICOM caucus.

A definite decision, he said was to be expected after the CARICOM foreign ministers meeting which ended in Dominica yesterday.

He also dismissed the claims which have reportedly been made by the opposition including those which suggested that St Vincent and the Grenadines needed to sever ties with Taiwan due to the veto power of China, one of the permanent members of the Security Council.

In fact, a bidding nation requires a two-thirds majority vote and according to Dr Gonsalves, already there was favourable support for St Vincent and the Grenadines, even outside the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULAC), the region to which this country belongs, should a decision be made that this country will proceed with a bid.

The Prime Minister also dismissed claims that this country was being pressured into the position to force out Columbia’s bid.

“It’s rubbish – this is not about Venezuela,” Dr Gonsalves said.

Regarding the opposition’s claim that the Prime Minister made the announcement while abroad and not to the Vincentian public, Dr Gonsalves reiterated the point that the ground work was being laid before proceeding with a formal decision.

When questioned about the possible benefits to be derived from a seat on the Security Council, Dr Gonsalves responded that the benefits were “tremendous.”

“We are the smallest country ever going for the Security Council.”

“The increased profile alone, but not just the recognition, but the material benefits as well.”

“This is like St Vincent being in the Football World Cup Finals,” he said.

Dr Gonsalves slammed the Opposition Leader saying that he did not understand diplomacy and he was being unpatriotic.

“In another country where the Opposition Leader is offering himself as Prime Minister and talking nonsense, he would have been ripped apart.”

“He is showing a level of unpreparedness, Dr Gonsalves said.”

The Security Council of the United Nations is composed of five permanent members: China, France, The Russian Federation, The United Kingdom and the United States. It also has ten non-permanent members, who serve for two-year terms. Each Council member has one vote.

Under the UN Charter, all Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council.

While other organs of the United Nations make recommendatinos to Governments, the Council alone has the power to take decisions which Member States are obligated under the Charter to carry out.