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External Affairs Minister Alva Baptiste has outlined Saint Lucia’s diplomatic strategy amid the turbulent global environment, declaring that the country has its interests to pursue.
Baptiste said it was clear that Saint Lucia was interested in diplomacy as a significant tool to navigate the turbulence of the contemporary global political environment.
“We are not going to be friends with some and vexed with another set because of tensions between X country and Y country,” the Laborie MP told reporters during Monday’s regular Cabinet briefing.
Saint Lucia has close ties with Guyana and Venezuela, two countries embroiled in a controversy over a claim by Caracas to Guyana’s resource-rich Essequibo region.
The region comprises over two-thirds of Guyana’s territory.
However, Presidents Dr. Irfaan Ali of Guyana and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela met in Argyle, Saint Vincent, recently at a summit that included Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders.
An eleven-point joint statement from the summit declared, among other things, that Guyana and Venezuela, directly or indirectly, would not threaten or use force against one another in any circumstances.
Baptiste said Saint Lucia had decided to cooperate with others based on what is essential for the Island to survive in a very different, post-Cold War world.
The Minister recalled that the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SPL) election manifesto stated that the party would reach out to non-traditional countries to attract official development assistance and foreign direct investment.
He declared that was no secret.
In this regard, the Minister said precisely what the Labour Party stated in its manifesto, the Philip J. Pierre administration was pursuing.
He noted that the people voted overwhelmingly for the SLP.
The party surged out of opposition and into office by a landslide after the July 26, 2021, general elections.
Responding to a reporter’s question regarding opposition criticism that some of Saint Lucia’s diplomatic relations were harmful, Baptiste said not as far as he was aware.
“Right now, we have relations with Taiwan, the United States, Canada. They have relations with mainland China, but we don’t,” the External Affairs Minister observed.
He told reporters Saint Lucia was not a country ‘pregnant with ideological positions’ or extreme in any direction.
“At the end of the day, we have to take care of our people,” Baptiste asserted.