It must be noted that in 2009 when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was under the portfolio of the Rt. Honourable Prime Minister, Dr. Denzil L Douglas, the Government took the decision to pursue a refocused foreign policy coordination strategy with emphasis on the development of relations with traditional and non-traditional partners and countries and therefore agreed to target those nations that, in its view, will bring benefit to the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. These included Qatar, India, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates, all of which were considered areas of strategic interest, specifically as it related to foreign direct investment, renewable energy as well as tourism, trade, inter alia. It must also be noted that having successfully negotiated a Visa Waiver Agreement with the European Union allowing citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis to travel hassle free to the Schengen States, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs focussed its attention on the UAE. This was also informed by the advice that a number of citizens under the investment programme also reside there and that this will open a new window of opportunity for tourism and investment purposes.
Accordingly, in the first quarter of 2009, given the interest that St. Kitts and Nevis had developed in that region of the Middle East, and particularly based on the investment interest that originated from areas such as Dubai, it was recommended that St. Kitts and Nevis not only establish a presence in Dubai but that efforts be made to explore the possibilities of negotiating a Visa Waiver Agreement with the UAE.
In keeping with the standard procedures for formalizing relations and seeking approval for the establishment of a Consulate in the UAE, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs initiated dialogue with the Government of the UAE. The process was formalized through the signing of a Joint Communiqué at the ambassadorial level on 16 June 2010 consistent with the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic/Consular Relations. HE Delano Bart signed on behalf of the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis.
In making the selection of the candidate Cabinet considered two options: namely, identifying one of our citizens resident in the UAE to serves as Honorary Consul or identifying and appointing one of our nationals already serving in a consular post and who can be deployed there with greater ease. Consistent with the change in policy of the UAE as it relates to the recognition of Honorary Consuls, the Government had to resort to the second option.
For the avoidance of doubt it must be noted that the process was already in train when Minister Condor assumed the position of Minister with responsibility of Foreign Affairs in 2010. The process continued during his tenure.
In endeavouring to complete the process as part of its regular duties, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a Diplomatic Note dated February 14, 2011(initialled by a Senior Foreign Service Officer) requested approval to set up our Consulate. The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis sought and received approval for the appointment of the Consul General to Dubai and is satisfied that Ms. Alex Woodley, the officer designated for the post and who currently serves in a dual capacity as Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of St. Kitts and Nevis to the United Nations and who also, without compensation for the last nine years, performs the duties of Deputy Consul General in New York, is eminently qualified. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Finance and a Masters of Laws in International Taxation. She is a Certified Professional Accountant (CPA). Ms Woodley has over sixteen years experience in the field of international relations and diplomacy having also acted in the absence of the Permanent Representative/Head of Mission to the United Nations.
Having received the approval since 2010 and following at least two visits by the Rt. Honourable Prime Minister during which the matter was again raised, it was necessary for the Government to complete the accreditation process and the related logistics/administrative arrangements to ensure that the Federation was serious and credible.
The composition of the delegation that travelled to Dubai on March 14, 2012 was informed by the interrelatedness of the issues to be discussed and the actions to be taken to advance the establishment of the Consulate. The various members of the delegation acted in the ambit of their respective remits. The Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister was integrally involved in the previous decisions relating to this matter when she served as the PS in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She currently serves in the Office of the Prime Minister who has responsibility for the Citizenship Investment Programme that falls under the portfolio of the Rt. Honourable Prime Minister. The present Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was nominated as the Accounting/Administrative Officer in the Ministry which will have oversight of the Consulate when it is established. The Consul General designate was included given the need to finalize the accreditation process and to complete the accreditation process and to acquaint herself with the environment in which she would soon be resident.
The composition of the delegation was justified and the Government was convinced that there was no breach of the established procedures of the Service. In fact, the Minister was informed and he raised no objection to the inclusion of his Permanent Secretary on the delegation at that time.
During its visit to Dubai, the delegation not only focussed on the establishment of the Consulate but also held fruitful discussions with the UAE officials on the issues of renewable energy and membership of St. Kitts and Nevis in the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) as well and addressed the topic of the Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) which is of mutual interest to both countries. Discussions also centred around the Visa Waiver Agreement and its related benefits to the tourism industry and the generation of the Foreign Direct Investment. The objectives of the visit were therefore met and it is now the intention of the Government to move swiftly to consider the budgetary and other implications that will lead to the opening of the Consulate in Dubai so that the interests of the nation and its people could be duly served.
Condor’s response can be accessed by clicking the following link: http://www.miyvue.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7360:condor-says-cabinet-statement-cannot-be-a-legitimate-one&catid=42:rokstories&Itemid=109