TAIPEI, Taiwan: – There is no need for each Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) nation that has diplomatic ties with Taiwan to set up an embassy here, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said last week.
Gonsalves told Vincentians in Taiwan that his government is proposing a joint OECS mission for SVG, St. Lucia, and St. Kitts/Nevis, the three members of the eight-nation sub-regional grouping that recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation.
He is also open to a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) mission that will also represent Belize, in addition to the OECS nations.
Two of the English-speaking CARICOM nations — St. Kitts and Belize — that maintain relations with Taiwan have embassies here while SVG and St. Lucia do not.
Haiti, CARICOM’s only French-speaking nation, also has an embassy in Taiwan.
“Frankly speaking, I’m hoping that we can have a mission for St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and St. Kitts/Nevis; if possible, Belize,” Gonsalves said during an official visit here.
He said that he had discussed the idea with his Kittitian colleague, Dr. Denzel Douglas before St. Kitts set up its embassy here three years ago.
“The Taiwanese had said that they would provide for us the accommodation,” Gonsalves said in response to a question regarding whether his government was moving to set up an embassy in Taiwan.
“I don’t think we need to have three different set of buildings. We can have one building. We can have an ambassador and we can have other members of staff. Let’s say for instance a Kittitian is the ambassador, a Vincentian can be in the staff to address the consular matters relating to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in the way in which we do it in Brussels, in the way in which we do it in Ottawa,” Gonsalves said.
“…I am hoping that we can get this thing sorted out. … I would very much like if we can do this thing together, those of us who have the relations with Taiwan. I think it is easier on Taiwan, it is cheaper on us and we can work in a coordinated manner. I don’t see the problem,” he said.
Gonsalves further said that he had been discussing with Taipei’s ambassador to Kingstown ways in which Vincentians in Taiwan can access consular services in the absence of an embassy.