GEORGETOWN, Guyana (DPI) – As part of efforts to reshape Guyana’s foreign policy landscape, the government recently convened a conference bringing together 26 heads and officers in charge of diplomatic missions from around the globe, at the Guyana Police Force Officer’s Mess Eve Leary, Georgetown.
The objective of the two-day engagement was to elucidate the government’s vision, ensuring that foreign missions are aligned with national objectives and to reiterate Guyana’s position on the global stage.
The event was the first of its kind since president Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali assumed office.
Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud, in an interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI) on Monday, provided insights into the purpose of the meeting. He said while these engagements were conducted in various formats in the past, they will now become a standard operating procedure.
President Ali set the tone with a charged opening address, outlining his vision and expectations for Guyana’s international engagement. He also highlighted the government’s goal of ensuring that Guyana becomes a global leader in climate, energy, and food security by 2030.
This was followed by remarks from prime minister Brigadier (Ret’d), Mark Phillips who emphasised the indispensable role of the heads of missions in fostering peace, stability, and progress on a global scale, building a better future for their nation and the world.
Minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, Hugh Todd also presented on safeguarding our sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The conference delved into in-depth discussions and presentations by vice president Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, focusing on Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy 2030 and the nation’s energy prospects.
Other government ministers also presented on areas such as infrastructure developments, human, social, and cultural development, labour and migration policies, cyber security and digitalisation policies, as well as diaspora engagement and contributions to national development.
According to the foreign secretary, the presentations not only highlighted the nation’s progress but also underscored the need for Guyana’s diplomatic corps to adapt to the changing times and align with the evolving needs of the country.
“We are living in a Guyana today that is different from the Guyana five, six years ago, hence our foreign policy and the approach and the way in which our officers and heads and ambassadors conduct themselves will also have to be in tune with the new realities and the expectations and where the country is going,” he underscored.
Persaud highlighted the pivotal role of direct interaction, especially given Guyana’s recent diplomatic challenges. He emphasised that the conference was not just a refocusing exercise but also a way to redirect the nation’s international image.
“This conference…is more or less retooling, refocusing, and redirecting our heads of missions and our offices as to what is expected of them and how it is that they are going to prosecute on the frontlines of our foreign policy,” Persaud further noted.
He stated that the president has directed the resuscitation of the foreign service Institute, emphasising its importance in upgrading and enhancing the skills of the existing staff and the new personnel who will be joining. It will also facilitate better communication with other stakeholders within and outside of the government.
Persaud reminded that when the PPP/C returned to office in August, Guyana was considered a ‘pariah state.’ Governments and international agencies had stopped engaging with Guyana due to concerns such as the refusal to adhere to the no-confidence motion and the issues with the March 2020 elections.
However, under the Ali-led PPP/C administration, Guyana has successfully rebuilt its global standing, attracting visits from heads of state and prominent leaders. It has even had the opportunity to host major international conferences. Next year, Guyana will also assume the chairmanship of CARICOM. In addition to the engagements, there will be field visits to several projects and interactions with various stakeholders.