ST. VINCENT: – Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace is challenging Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves to deny that he told other Caribbean leaders that St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) would contest for a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council for the 2011-2012 term.
Eustace first made the claim while speaking on radio last Thursday. However, shortly after he made the comments, SVG’s Permanent Mission to the United Nation issued a press advisory saying Eustace made “false statements”.
It said that Eustace’s assertion, and comments about the potential impact on the country’s relationship with Taiwan, could adversely affect the implementation of the SVG’s foreign policy and its international standing.
But Eustace on Monday said that he is standing by his statements. (Follow I Witness-News on Facebook)
“Let the Prime Minister deny it. Because the memo that was sent by the Prime Minister’s Office, purported to come from the government representative … accuse me of making false statements,” he said on radio.
“I said the Prime Minister has announced to the Caribbean heads of government –- his colleagues — that St. Vincent was seeking a seat on the United Nations Security Council. And I stand by that statement and I call on the Prime Minister — I challenge him — to say that is not true,” Eustace said.
He believed the alleged plan, which the government has denied, was initiated by member states of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) in an attempt to undermine Colombia’s chances at winning the seat.
“I am satisfied that ALBA is the one … who pushed Prime Minister Gonsalves to tell his [Caribbean Community] colleagues that St. Vincent is going to contest for the seat in the United Nations … because they don’t like Columbia and Colombia is the country that is named,” Eustace said.
Eustace also expressed concern about a statement Gonsalves reportedly made at the 9th ALBA Summit, in Venezuela.
Cuba’s Granma newspaper quoted Gonsalves as urging ALBA states to fight against colonialism and imperialism and expressing his confidence that Vincentians and the region understand that ALBA is the way to leave behind underdevelopment
“…it is a cause that cannot be achieved with people who doubt,” Gonsalves is quoted as saying.
But Eustace, whose New Democratic Party (NDP) is wary of increasingly warm relations between Kingstown and Caracas, said Gonsalves had received no such mandate from the people of SVG.
“That is an amazing statement. I want to know when Ralph Gonsalves canvassed the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to tell them he is pursuing this because ALBA is the only way out of our underdevelopment,” Eustace said.
“I find that a ludicrous statement. To tell me ALBA is the way, I don’t accept that at all.” Eustace further said, adding that SVG’s foreign policy “should not be focused on one or two countries”.
“The NDP will not associate itself with these remarks made by the Prime Minister, We will oppose them vigorously. I am not singing by anybody’s tune because they give us some money,” he added.