Stop the megaphone diplomacy and engage instead in quiet diplomacy.
This is the call being made by Senior Counsel Martin Daly and former diplomat Reginald Dumas who, in a joint statement yesterday, expressed “deep concern” that the current controversies bearing upon relations between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States have the potential to gravely damage this country.
With respect to the calls for the resignation or dismissal of National Security Minister Stuart Young over the recent controversies “in which he has placed himself”, Daly and Dumas were critical of the minister.
“Having examined the statements of Minister Young before and after the US Ambassador’s statement of Tuesday last, we cannot avoid this comment: While Minister Young is pedantically insisting that the Ambassador did not use the word ‘breach’, if the Ambassador spoke of the ‘consistency’ of the Venezuelan Vice President’s visit with Trinidad and Tobago’s obligations under the Rio Treaty, what other than a breach could he possibly have meant? Where was the misconstruction?” they asked.
In a separate interview, Daly explained further that from the moment the US Ambassador linked his concerns over the visit of Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez with Trinidad and Tobago’s obligations under the Rio Treaty, “he was signalling to Young that the Government was not following, obeying or honouring the treaty.
“And saying that he did not use the word ‘breach’ is a distinction without a difference,” the Senior Counsel noted.
Daly said Young did answer the question posed by Wade Mark in the Senate on May 13. “If you ask me did we discuss a breach, and I say no, I have answered the question correctly. But if you are answering a question in the Parliament or you are accounting to the nation, you have an obligation to go beyond the technical use of words... to make full disclosure,” he said.
Not good for T&T
In their joint statement, Daly and Dumas said none of these controversies was good for Trinidad and Tobago.
“We respectfully but firmly believe that there are several considerations which require sober assessment, way above the incessant noise of partisan party politics and the undiplomatic language of the Minister of National Security, Stuart Young,” they said.
They noted that while many persons say this is a sovereign country and this was correct, the US too is a sovereign country and can take its own decisions.
“It has been applying sanctions to Venezuela and has made it clear that it will also apply sanctions to those countries, all equally sovereign, which violate its Venezuela sanctions.
“Given the political climate in Washington, that is a policy position which cannot be ignored,” the joint statement said.
“Is Trinidad and Tobago prepared to face sanctions, especially at this time of economic difficulty? Can we, in turn, impose sanctions on the USA as, for example, China can?” they asked.
“But if relations between Trinidad and Tobago and the USA are as positive and strong as Government spokespersons (Minister Young among them) say they are, should there not be quiet discussions between the two parties?” they asked.
Daly and Dumas “strongly recommended” such discussions be initiated, with a view to reaching mutually satisfactory solutions which respect our sovereignty and our foreign policy positions.
“On a without-prejudice basis, the relevance and application of the Rio Treaty to Trinidad and Tobago, about which a number of experts have reservations, should figure prominently in such discussions,” they said.
Daly and Dumas further recommended “an immediate cessation of the megaphone diplomacy that seems now to be in vogue”.