Foreign Minister, Dr Rudy Insanally has emphasised that external diplomacy is essential for mobilising international support for local policies and programmes, rejecting the contention that it is a net consumer of resources.
During the 2006 budget debate in the National Assembly on Friday, he noted that by its very nature diplomacy is discreet, but it helps to win friends and influence policies that are helpful to development. "Far from being a net consumer of resources, it is, to the contrary, an invaluable instrument for mobilising international support for our domestic purposes," the minister offered. He observed that a focus on the gains should not make people blind to the painstaking efforts by which these have been achieved, as very often the resources it succeeds in mobilising are immediate, significant and tangible."
He added: "Our share of the allocations for expenditure, particularly our contributions to the work of international organisations is thus without any doubt, a modest yet worthwhile investment." He recalled that during last year's budget debate, he had indicated that his ministry will embark on formulating a five-year strategic plan and informed the House that it has been completed.
During this year the focus will be on implementing it to ensure the efficient and effective performance of its policy and operational functions in furthering the interests of the government and people of Guyana by transforming the country through modernisation and partnership, he said.
Touching on border problems facing Guyana, he said the primary goal is securing sovereignty and territorial integrity. "Besieged as we are on two sides to the east and west by border problems, we must of necessity give particular attention to our first goal - the protection of sovereignty and territorial integrity," Insanally observed.
He said over the past year there has been "a quiet truce" in relations with Venezuela , the leadership of which has publicly admitted that its claim to Guyana 's territory has no legal basis but is founded on obsolete political perceptions. Nevertheless, Guyana continues to be denied the right to develop Essequibo as a result of Venezuela's dissuasion of investment in the region. "Under the good offices of the UN Secretary General, we are committed to explore the possibilities of an amicable resolution of the controversy. At the same time, through patient diplomacy, we have sought to build on the support for our cause which we have received from CARICOM, the Commonwealth and other friendly countries," Insanally informed the House. He also reported that shortly it is expected that the high level Commission which was created by the two countries would be resuscitated with the objective of promoting a climate of confidence and cooperation.
As regards the border problem with Suriname, which is before the International Law of the Sea Tribunal, the minister noted that judgement is due by mid next year once the parties have submitted their replies, as Guyana has submitted its memorial (body of arguments) and Suriname its counter-memorial. The award will enable Guyana to explore and exploit the resources that are "rightfully ours for the benefit of the economy," he said. In the meantime, he said as neighbours and sister states of CARICOM, the two countries continue to cooperate with each other in areas such as customs, immigration and health. He also said that in the context of Guyana 's maritime delimitation, it is advancing preparations for the submission to the United Nations Commission on the limits of the continental shelf.
With respect to Brazil, relations are moving apace as several agreements for cooperation in the fields of agriculture, health, transport and trade have been clinched, the minister reported. Of special significance in the International Road Transport Agreement to facilitate the movement of goods and services between the two countries, the Foreign Minister informed the House that the Takutu Bridge is scheduled to be completed by the end of June this year. He added that in order "to give life to the concept of Guyana as a gateway between the Caribbean and South America, we have also established honorary consulates in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo as well as in Lima, Peru."