Letters to the Editor

Diplomacy should be principled!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

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Dear Editor,

When we think of diplomacy, we think of tact, principles and even subtleties. Our diplomatic policy seems to be unfolding in an inconsistent, incoherent and dangerous manner.

We saw signs of this when Jamaica 'voted' in the United Nations to abstain, when most others voted in favour to oppose the USA moving its embassy to Jerusalem, in order to recognise that city as the capital of Israel. Most foreign embassies in Israel are located in Tel Aviv, and I recall the US ambassador issuing threats after, saying that, “The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation.”

The recent vote in the Organisation of American States (OAS) not to recognise the legitimacy of the Venezuelan Government led by Nicolas Maduro for a second term was also out of line and our position appeared to be influenced. We cannot ignore historical relationships, regardless of who is in power and whether or not we favour their current leader, and their policies and agenda.

In a complex world we try to be cordial even in extreme circumstances. There will be all types of international relationships; some will be very close, others not so at all. We use our close, friendly relationships to our mutual advantage, which may even help to mediate conflicts and unstable situations. It is for this reason our diplomatic principle is based on one of non-interference and the use peacefully negotiated resolutions and mediation to resolve conflicts. Once we start moving away from these principles, we damage relationships and our image.

In a recent press briefing, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith reiterated “that Jamaica votes in favour of human rights, democracy, law and order and the principle of non-intervention”. But we maintain close ties with our neighbour Cuba, although its Government was never truly democratically elected. We also have close ties with China and Israel, where new bilateral agreements are being forged, despite human rights issues.

We are an independent nation, and must start acting like it in order to be taken seriously internationally. While other views should be considered, we cannot make harsh decisions in a vacuum. The aggressive takeover of Venezuela's 49 per cent share in Petrojam using legislative means is obviously linked to Jamaica's new position on Venezuela, which is extreme and undiplomatic. The latest actions by the Jamaican Government is cause for concern, it shows signs of autocratic leadership and the country should stand on guard.

P Chin


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