February 24, 2015
Foreign policies affect almost everything – Senator Gonsalves

In small countries like St Vincent and the Grenadines, almost everything we talk about has a foreign affairs component.

And according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Senator Camillo Gonsalves, “that foreign policy element is sometimes not sufficiently ventilated in our discourse and not thought about at the extent that it could be thought about when we have these conversations.”{{more}}

The Minister made the statement on Monday February 16, at the Ministry’s conference room during the launch of an essay competition.

The Senator added that small countries like ours, “in the environment that we now find ourselves,” are particularly vulnerable to external events and the way in which we deal with these external events has an impact on our day to day life.

He noted that foreign policy conversations point towards agriculture, education, health care, the improvement of local infrastructure and economic development.

Gonsalves said St Vincent and the Grenadines has students all around the world getting education free, based on foreign policy outreach associated with countries like Mexico, Cuba, Iran, Turkey, Russia, Malaysia and Taiwan.

“This is because of things that have to do with foreign policy, but they (students) may not think about foreign policy, but they have foreign policy to thank,” said Gonsalves who stressed that basic things like roads, schools, learning resource centers and libraries, “all of those things that we use on a daily basis are the product of bilateral or multilateral agreements.”

He noted also that the hospital, being refurbished through a grant from the European Union (EU), is another prime example of foreign policy.

“They have other components, but all of them have something to do with foreign policy. When you talk about friends and family who want to migrate and do, they need a visa, all of these, they impact life and have a strong foreign policy element,” said Gonsalves who noted that issues like storms and hurricanes are products of climate change caused by the actions of others which also addresses our thoughts on how do we in our foreign policy as a small country influence bigger countries to have fewer “emissions’ which will make our life easier from a climate change perspective.

“Foreign policy and foreign affairs touch and concern all aspects of our lives. The amount of money paid for goods, fuel prices…part of what we are trying to do in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to say in a country like ours, foreign policy touches and concerns everything and therefore foreign policy is the business of every single Vincentian.”

The Senator said that the Ministry is trying to demystify what it does while creating interest by having conversations centered on policy decisions.

“I would like the public to have an educated discussion about foreign policy and ways in which we should go. We are doing a lot already to try to educate Vincentians and we want to have a conversation about foreign policy,” stressed Gonsalves who noted that the Ministry has a radio programme that is aired every other Thursday while there is also a Facebook page and a website.

He noted also that the Ministry does school visits and is hoping to do a magazine.

He opined also that the essay contest fits into the framework as the topics bring home messages, one of the most important one being climate change.