Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 17, 2016 (SKNIS): The Honourable Mark Brantley, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation, said his Ministry continues to work assiduously to help repair damaged bilateral relations between some countries and the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis that occurred before the Government of National Unity assumed office on February 16, 2015.
One such country where the relationship was damaged, specifically through the former administration’s management of the Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) programme, is that of Canada. The Canadian Government revoked the visa-free access of St. Kitts and Nevis over immigration concerns and the security of its citizens because of what it felt was lax controls with respect to the mismanagement of the CBI Programme then.
Minister Brantley said that he and Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, have engaged the Canadian Minister of Immigration to mend immigration issues related to the CBI Programme.
“I can say the meetings were frank, they were open and they were fruitful, and we remain hopeful that we will start to see some changes in approach in so far as our people travelling to Canada is concerned,” said Minister Brantley at the “Discussions for Prosperity” town hall meeting held at the St. Peter’s Community Centre on Tuesday, August 16.
The Foreign Minister said that upon assuming office he encountered a number of other problems where relations were concerned between the federation and other countries.
“In my role as Minister of Foreign Affairs, we met St. Kitts and Nevis at an all-time low in so far as our relations with major partners and countries were concerned,” he said. “We had difficulties as you know with Canada which resulted in you and me now having to get a visa to visit Canada, our friends and family, to go to school [and] to do all the things that we normally would have done without a visa. We also met relations with the United States of America (USA) – one of our strongest allies and one of the world’s most powerful countries, in shambles.”
Honourable Brantley explained that although this was a serious issue, the Government’s publicity in the media was limited because diplomacy is done quietly.
“And so, what we have is quiet, determined and consistent work over the past eighteen months in order to restore the confidence that other countries had in St. Kitts and Nevis,” said the Foreign Affairs Minister, adding that the country’s diplomacy has been very simple. “We have spoken softly, we have spoken in a matured way and we have meant what we said and we have asked nations of the world to trust us when we speak.”
Minister Brantley highlighted the issue of trust and said that it was an issue that was seen as highly important to the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, as trust underpins relations between people and countries.
He explained that with any Government criticisms will occur and warned citizens to always be armed with the relevant information that is needed to deal with the criticisms.
Minister Brantley used the occasion to inform the attendees of a number of relations that St. Kitts and Nevis established with other countries since assuming the role of Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Federal Government. Such countries include Ukraine, Gambia, Senegal, Belarus, Croatia and Kosovo.
He noted that the Government is reaching out and expanding the footprint of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Although the Federation is small in size, it has the same voice as every other country when it pertains to the United Nations, he said. That, he said, makes St. Kitts and Nevis a powerful nation.