Working in the Foreign Service is often perceived as a career of glitz and glamour, with persons traipsing the globe and rubbing shoulders with Heads of States and Governments, attending high profile functions, and living a life that many could only dream about.
But the role of a diplomat in forging ties between countries is a critical one, filled with hard work at the highest level.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Trade, Dr. Kenneth Baugh, tells JIS News that diplomats are “the ones who help us to build bridges of cooperation in terms of economic cooperation and trading arrangements, and they will help us to maintain good diplomatic ties with these countries. We need these ties to be able to do trading.and it is really important for us to have good friends all over the world at the level of Government… they interface with their own Governments, (and) inform those Governments of the policies of Jamaica”.
Pointing to the importance of Jamaica’s own missions overseas, he says that apart from normal diplomatic activities and consular affairs, services to Jamaicans abroad, and providing visas for people, who want to come to Jamaica, they also help in the promotion of Jamaica.
“They, in their various capacities, facilitate our Ministers and officials when they travel abroad and go to meetings (such as) United Nations meetings. Our ambassadors sometimes represent us at these meetings, and they sometimes issue statements on our behalf or agree to collective statements being made, so they argue on our behalf to present Jamaica’s position on a number of matters that are important globally, especially concerning peace and conflict in other countries. They have a very important role to play,” he stresses.
British High Commissioner, Jeremy Cresswell, says that Jamaica and Britain share a long and historic relationship.
British High Commissioner to Jamaica, Jeremy Cresswell, says that as the office that represents the British Government in Jamaica, the Commission has quite an important role to play in enhancing the relationship between the two countries.
He notes that the relationship between Britain and Jamaica is a long and historical one and “it’s important that we talk to each other and work with each other as part of the Commonwealth, and the United Kingdom, as part of the European Union, and that we work through our strengths.”
Meanwhile, Cuban Ambassador, Gisela Garcia Rivera agrees that, “the position of ambassadors as the representatives of foreign countries, is something that has been a very important position since the establishment of different nations. It is a very important job in order to forge the relationship between countries”.
Cuban Ambassador, Gisela Garcia Rivera, speaks to JIS News about the importance of diplomats in forging relationship between countries.
An ambassador resident in a country, she says, “must be a person able to assimilate and to understand the culture of the country, how the society and the Government work, what are the strengths, the challenges, and the difficulties. You must be able to assess that firsthand, and be able to translate that to your country, in order to accommodate the interest of both countries, and be a facilitator of the relationship between the countries”.
For his part, Colombian Ambassador, Ventura Emilio Diaz Mejia, notes the importance of countries working together to foster relations in various areas. He says that Jamaica and Colombia have maintained a strong relationship, which has promoted cooperation between both countries, in areas such as agriculture, national security and student exchange programmes.
The 11th annual diplomatic week, which is being staged from January 26 to 30, will underscore the importance of maintaining such vital cooperation and relations between nation states.
The week of observance brings together non-resident diplomats from the wider Caribbean and the neighbouring United States, Latin America, among other countries, to interface with local resident diplomats.
“It is an event that was initiated by Jamaica, praised by diplomats all over the world and emulated by other countries, and for us, it’s a great opportunity for networking and disseminating with foreign Governments and trading partners, through their diplomats, the policies and the goals and objectives of the Government of Jamaica,” Dr. Baugh states.
The week of dialogue, social events and meetings, will serve to make diplomats aware of the domestic policies that drive foreign policy, and the activities of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, as well as the work of their colleagues, and how these impact on the welfare and the well-being of Jamaicans.
Columbian Ambassador to Jamaica, Ventura Emilio Diaz Mejia, says that Jamaica and Columbia has maintained a strong relationship.
“So, it has a direct bearing on the policies that we have here in Jamaica, and especially in this time of a crisis, you can expect us to put great emphasis on collective action and cooperation with a united voice, what is needed to correct the global economic crisis that is now taking place, and probably affecting every single country in the world,” the Foreign Affairs Minister states.
The week will involve discussions on the United Nations, the restructuring and refocussing of global and international financial institutions, and those that govern world trade.
According to Dr. Baugh, it is recognised that there is a need for these institutions to be refocussed, with greater emphasis on the needs of developing countries, “and for us to have greater influence on world economic policies”.
“Plus, it is a great opportunity for us to put more emphasis on those policies that we are now pursuing in Jamaica, to improve our economic situation, which has to do with industrialisation for export, penetrating markets, getting investors to come to Jamaica, and taking advantage of the economic partnership arrangement, as well as the other free trade arrangements,” he states.
Dr. Baugh expresses appreciation to the permanent secretary, the undersecretaries in the Ministry and their staff, and other officials, whom he says, have been working to ensure that the week is successful.
“We have done tremendously well over the years and I know we will do well again. We have had a very good response from the non-resident ambassadors. We are very grateful for their participation and we are looking forward to a very successful week,” he says.
British High Commissioner Cresswell sees the week as an important one, which presents the opportunity for representative, who live in Jamaica to meet with visiting colleagues, as well as to dialogue with diplomats residing here.
The Cuban Ambassador commended the Government on instituting a “very good event” noting that diplomatic week is now observed by all CARICOM countries.
“Non-resident ambassadors are able to socialise with the Government, the main institutions of Jamaica, the resident diplomatic corps, and have the opportunity to (see) firsthand …what the country is doing in the economic, political and social sphere. It is very important for the non-resident ambassadors. We are going to be receiving very important firsthand information about the situation, priorities, and challenges of the country in different areas. It’s really a very hard-working week, not only for socialising,” she points out.
Colombian Ambassador Mejia concurs, noting that the week will be very interesting, in terms of highlighting the importance of the relationship between Jamaica and other countries, politically, socially and culturally.
Diplomatic Week 2009 features presentation of credentials to Governor- General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Professor Sir Kenneth Hall and Dr. Baugh; a reception hosted by Dr. Baugh; bilateral meetings; a cultural evening; a forum to be addressed by Dr. Baugh, Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw; and Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Karl Samuda; luncheons; a diplomatic dinner and an excursion day to two parishes.