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Gonsalves: Falklands delegation did not follow protocol

Gonsalves: Falklands delegation did not follow protocol

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Proper protocol was not followed by members of the Falkland Islands legislature when they attempted to make a call on Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves last week.{{more}}

At a press conference at Cabinet Room on Monday, Gonsalves, in response to a question, said he did not meet with Roger Edwards and Sharon Halford, two members of the Falkland Islands legislature who were visiting to bolster support for their cause.

The Prime Minister said that the duo did not have the permission of the Government of Britain to see him, being a colony of the United Kingdom.

“I didn’t tell them to come and see me. I did not make any arrangement to tell them when they over there to come. They decided that they going to come to the Caribbean, and we welcome them here….”

However, Dr Gonsalves said that even though they had a diplomatic note from the Barbados based British High Commission, their approach was not in line with international protocol.

“Well, under the circumstances, with great respect, a normal diplomatic note will not suffice, because it is presuming that you will already be seeing the person, and this is only now to set up a schedule.”

“I will tell you quite honestly a senior member in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs came to see me to work out a schedule because they said that they request for a meeting…. so the first thing I asked the senior official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: ‘on what juridical basis two legislators from a colonial assembly want to see the Prime Minister of an independent country?’ because I have to ask questions of my staff.

The Prime Minister likened the request of the Falkland diplomats to that of the premier of Montserrat (Reuben Meade) which is a British colony, wishing to meet with the Prime Minister of Canada (Stephen Harper), or closer to home: him wanting a meeting with the head of the United Kingdom.

“If I want to see the Prime Minister of Great Britain/ Northern Ireland, I can’t just send a diplomatic note. I have to write requesting a meeting; and he is a very busy man. He may not be able to able to see me.

I wouldn’t feel badly about it, once I could see somebody who could help me address the problem.

“If the British Foreign Secretary wants to speak to me on the Falkland issue, I will speak to him. If the British High Commissioner wants to speak to me on the Falkland issue, I will speak to him.”

Apart from the diplomatic faux pas, Dr Gonsalves said that scheduling issues would not have allowed him to meet with the individuals; since he was chairing OECS meetings and Cabinet meetings.

He said that he was not ‘hiding behind schedules’, and would not have seen them if his question to the public servant was not ‘answered to my satisfaction.’

“This is not arrogance. As you know, I see the humblest persons in St Vincent and the Grenadines; I see them daily, but I am the Prime Minister of an independent country and there are certain protocols which must be satisfied when you are dealing with relations between countries.”

Concerning the Falkland issue, he noted that the matter should be left to the two nations involved, the United Kingdom and Argentina, to work out their differences.

“Frankly speaking, the British want to trade with Argentina. They don’t want war…. They want to see if they could find a mechanism to resolve this issue, and they would resolve it sometime between themselves through one or other of the milti-lateral institutions (the United Nations or the OAS) or some other mechanism….”

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