PRIME MINISTER Dr Ralph Gonsalves has again called for countries to respect international law and refrain from interfering in the domestic affairs of sovereign states.
The Prime Minister who was speaking at a cocktail ceremony on Sunday in honour of the President of UN General Assembly Volkan Bozkir, emphasised that the principles which are entrenched in international law and which are fundamental central pillars of the General Assembly must be upheld.
According to a release from the Agency for Public Informtion (API), he pointed out that at the General Assembly each country has one vote and none is more equal than the other even though it may appear so to some.
“So the United States of America at the General Assembly, the president has the same time to speak as I have at the General Assembly. Our diplomats are recognised in the same way, never mind as the most powerful country in the world, some may say the most powerful empire that the world has ever seen, but that powerful country has to respect the sovereignty, independence and equality of St Vincent and the Grenadines. It is a very important proposition and then of course, it follows that we defend, maintain and uphold the principles of sovereignty and independence and the non-interference in the internal affairs of states.”
PM Gonsalves cited the storming of the US capital on January 6 ,2021 as an example, noting that “no one could reasonably assert that we should intervene in the United States because the people storm Capitol Hill,” that’s a matter for the state institutions to address, he said.
He also urged that countries not engage in unilateral conduct save and except as is set out in the charter of the United Nations in respect of the exercise of self- defense. The Prime Minister said however, that one cannot use the international financial system which everyone has a right to access against other countries. He said “and moreso in the case of an embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba for over 60 years. Just under two months ago for nearly the 30th occasion the General Assembly by a vote of 184 to two with seven abstentions, the two countries voting for the embargo, the United States of America and Israel; the majority of all the world, of humanity, of the states at the United Nations said that it is illegal this blockade, it is contrary to international law.”
According to the Prime Minister, this country wants to send syringes and needles to Cuba to assist with the roll out of their vaccine the Abdala, a process that is being hampered largely as a result of the embargo. However, he said he is being told by some that he cannot send those which were bought from the United States of America “because if I do, if St Vincent and the Grenadines does that, it may open us up to some action by the United States, where that action is deemed to be illegal in international law.”
He also noted that in a similar vein the sanctions applied to Venezuela under former President Donald Trump are hurting not only Venezuela but SVG as well.
“…As a consequence of that the PetroCaribe arrangements with our country, where we got concessional terms in buying fuel from Venezuela, for electricity for instance, where we had a gain depending on the price of oil, between 20 and 35 million US dollars annually; that was used to fight poverty and to build houses and to help with education and the like and the health system, that source of money is no longer available to us,” the Prime Minister noted. He said that “we are victims too of these unilateral, illegal sanctions.
According to the Prime Minister, St Vincent and the Grenadines seeks to build multilateral relations noting that “multilateralism is the critical glue mechanism for peace, for security and for development. And this idea that because you are strong and powerful you can throw your weight around and decide that unilateralism is the path, unilateralism will never succeed particularly in the contemporary world and anybody who has those notions are those who hanker to an imperialism whose time has already passed.”