ST. VINCENT: – Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has established diplomatic relations with three more countries: Egypt, Montenegro and Georgia, bringing to 16 the number of countries with which SVG established formal links with the past 30 months.
“The new relations represent a continuation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ active diplomatic efforts to forge stronger ties with African and European states,” the nation mission to the United Nations said in a press release.
On Tuesday, Nov. 16, Ambassadors Camillo Gonsalves of SVG and Maged Abdelfattah Abdelaziz of Egypt signed instruments formalising diplomatic relations between their two countries.
Egypt, with a population of close to 80 million persons, has a $500 billion economy that is highly diversified, with tourism, agriculture, services and industry contributing almost equally to the gross domestic product (GDP).
“The country is a major player in African, Middle Eastern and international affairs,” the release said.
Ambassadors Abdelaziz and Gonsalves pledged to strengthen bilateral cooperation between Egypt and SVG in the fields of culture, tourism development and developmental cooperation.
Additionally, the two ambassadors committed to greater cooperation in political matters, particularly at the United Nations and in
the Non-Aligned Movement, which is chaired by Egypt.
Further, on Nov. 8, SVG and Montenegro established diplomatic relations when instruments were exchanged between Ambassador Gonsalves and Milorad Šćepanović of Montenegro.
Montenegro, a highly developed country of 675,000 people, is located in Southeastern Europe and became independent from Serbia in 2006.
Tourism and services are mainstays of the rapidly growing economy, which was expanding at over 7.5 per cent annually before the global financial meltdown began in 2008.
The ambassadors indicated that, as small states, both Montenegro and SVG share common perspectives on a variety of issues.
Both nations are also mountainous, with a growing focus on tourism, and the diplomats said there are many best practices that could be shared.
Georgia is another relatively small Eastern European country with which SVG has established diplomatic relations.
Ambassadors Alexander Lomaia and Gonsalves pledged deeper cooperation between the two states when they signed the necessary protocols.
The ambassadors highlighted many of the common features of their two countries, including the diversification of their agricultural economies to include services; the issue of poverty reduction; and, their revamping of educational systems.
Gonsalves also indicated interest in cultural exchanges. Lomaia indicated that Georgia, whose ancient civilization is home to some of the world’s oldest Christian churches, would be happy to receive Vincentian youth on cultural and educational exchanges.
In making the case for re-election when Vincentians go to the polls on Dec. 13, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves on Sunday listed “elaborating and implementing a sensible, productive, independent, foreign policy” among “the most dramatic progress” SVG has made since his Unity Labour Party’s (ULP) came to office in 2001.
“I have the contacts; I have built the foreign relations; I have massaged the friendships; and I have placed a great emphasis on internationalist solidarity. Everyone knows that if anyone can raise significant reconstruction monies for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, it is ‘the Comrade’,” Gonsalves said.
Meanwhile, public relation office of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) Vynnette Frederick on Saturday spoke of the prime minister’s “personal connection with leaders of country that do not embrace and practice democracy”.
She mentioned “the Libyas, the Irans of the world” and said these relationships where warming even as “we alienate our traditional allies, the United States, the UK and Canada where the most Vincentians outside St. Vincent reside”.