May 6, 2005

Straker backs Republic

Mendicants, mercenaries and opportunists.

These were the choice words Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Louis Straker used to describe other countries which had broken relations with the Republic of China, Taiwan (ROC).

Straker, speaking at a ceremony to welcome a visiting Taiwanese Naval Squadron was very critical of “those who only supported Taiwan on the basis of what they can get”.{{more}}

In recent months two of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’s OECS neighbours, Dominica and Grenada have broken ties with the ROC and have established diplomatic relations with the mainland People’s Republic of China. Straker’s words therefore may be interpreted as a direct criticism of the actions of these two countries.

The ceremony, held at the Cruise Ship Berth was attended by Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace and several members of cabinet including National Security Minister who delivered a short address.

Sir Vincent, who was a member of the then St. Vincent Labour Party administration which diplomatic relations were first established twenty years ago, made reference to the fact that since then successive governments had strengthened the ties with Taiwan.

He emphasized the importance of security even as he lamented that compliance with new security measures had impacted negatively on St. Vincent and the Grenadines and “a lot of developing countries.” The monies expended, he said, “were not grants but loans we have to pay for”.

Arnhim Eustace characterized the relationship between St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Taiwan as one which transcended the mere diplomatic and which had become personal with friendships that would last forever. He statements were decidedly brief as he mused because of the heat as the ceremony was being held under the grueling mid-morning sun.

Taiwanese Ambassador Elizabeth Chu also reiterated her county’s appreciation of the support given by St. Vincent and the Grenadines at international fora, as did the captain of the ship.

But it came to the Foreign Minister to very forcefully drive home the extent of the support his government had for Taiwan. He reiterated support for Taiwan’s “fight for freedom” as he delivered a message to “the opportunists.”

“Regardless of what,” he said “we will always support you.”

“We will always speak with one voice that desire for international recognition” Straker said.