Foreign Ministry Holds Retreat for Liberian Diplomatic Missions -As EU Delegation Urges Embassies To Work The Local Diplomatic Room

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By Stephen G. Fellajuah

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has embarked on a reform agenda to enhance Diplomatic Missions with regional bodies, embassies and foreign counterparts during post Covid 19, in line with the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development.

In his Keynote statement at the opening of a four-day retreat Tuesday, the European Delegation to Liberia, Ambassador Mr. Laurent Delahousse, identified security as a key component of national interest, which he said the Liberian diplomacy has a first-hand and historic experience of as the vital component of the national interest of the country.

“Security has more to do with cooperation through the establishment of stronger relations of relationship, trust and cooperation with your neighbors, with your regional organization ECOWAS, with the African Union and, finally, with the United Nations and your friends and partner from Africa, America, Europe and other continents,” Ambassador Delahousse underlined.

He acknowledged that Liberia is suffering from under-representation in the governing bodies of regional organizations, in ECOWAS and at the African Union. However, he further said that Liberia has a lot to offer to the region and to the world, with recent history giving Liberia intimacy and authority to understand and stress the importance of investing in preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

With Liberia’s military serving in peacekeeping mission in Mali, Mr. Delahousse indicated that Liberia is giving back to the region and the international community what it has received from them, saying the international community has given a lot to Liberia, as he encourages Liberia to have a more active role and involvement in regional and international affairs and issues of conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

“The Diplomatic community in Liberia would welcome more frequent and systematic briefing from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Regular exchanges between Ministry officials and the diplomatic corps are welcome, in a formal or even an informal way”, he noted.

According to him, those briefing could be shared with the Liberian diplomatic network because Liberia positions on national, regional and global issues are of interest to foreign counterparts, here and in post, while at the same time urging Liberian embassies to “work the local diplomatic room”, frequently visit officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, engage with the principal host country and their diplomatic advisors, become active members of the local diplomatic community.

While speaking further of the diplomatic community, Ambassador Delahousse said he also believes in common work, expressing cordiality with his colleagues from European missions in Monrovia, just as European diplomats do all over the world. “We work increasingly together as Team Europe. You will see this more and more in the coming months and the Team Europe approach will be at the heart of the programming of European development co-operation in the new programming circle 2021-2027.”

He further stated that the European Union has also been working and will continue to work with the United Nations, the African Union, ECOWAS, the United States and others, in contributing to efforts aimed at consolidating the peace and stability in Liberia.

Mr. Delahousse said African teamwork can be very efficient when it is properly organized and managed; like European counterparts, African Embassies can also do more together than isolated, adding that in many African countries, African missions already represent a significant constituency within the Diplomatic community, just as in multilateral institutions.

The EU Missions to Liberia identified prosperity as the second component of national interest and recommended that Liberian ambassadors build a strong and confident working relationship with their counterparts, where they are posted, which according to him will foster excellent exchanges among counterparts, saying the way people are treated in consular and diplomatic premises has a huge impact.

He urged Liberian embassies to make a case for their country in fierce competition for scarce resources. “Ambassadors and diplomats are lobbyists for their country. Their role is to project themselves out of the Embassy and to meet as many stakeholders of the bilateral relationship as possible: officials from the host country, people in business and investors and their organizations, the media, NGOs present in your country, influencers and artists and academics and think-tanks.”

He noted that the image of the country starts with its representatives, and that diplomats representing their country must be exemplary in their attitude and actions. He furthered that diplomats must be cognizant that they do not offer protection against acts of private nature that contradict local rules and regulations.

The EU Delegation to Liberia Ambassador said Liberia is blessed, because the country’s “image internationally is good”, adding that the world is aware of the gains the country has made from its recent tragedies, which he said the world is eager to listen to Liberia as the country strengthens it diplomacy with the region bodies and the world.

In remarks, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, D. Maxwell Kemayah, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has embarked on a four-day engagement with Diplomatic Missions to enhance the future of Liberia’s foreign policy through stock-taking exercises, brainstorming, session meetings and other helpful venture, considering that infrastructure, logistics and resources are the central factors of appraisal.

He revealed that the first phase of the retreat brought together hundred participants from across departments, bureaux, sections and units in the ministry, and members of the diplomatic corps, as well as other stakeholders of government, adding that the retreat which is the second phase targets ambassadors, charge d’affaires, consuls general and other diplomatic staffs of Liberia’s Diplomatic Missions.

“The objective of this retreat, like the previous one, is to develop a common understanding to enhance the shared vision of President George M. Weah and the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change as enshrined in the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development,” Ambassador Kemayah said.

“Considering that Diplomatic Missions are the first ports of call with regards to strengthening Liberia’s image and inspiring confidence in the Ministry service delivery, the outputs from the retreat is expected to recommend concrete actions for improved image to further Liberia’s economic development,” he said, adding that the retreat is intended as one of the objective to ensure that through respective services abroad, the country which is on economic development and diplomacy, can be realized not only to the benefit of the Liberian people but to the actualization of the vision and agenda of President George Manneh Weah.

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