THE NEW TODAY is submitting that the time has come for the replacement of Nicholas Steele as our Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Steele has been found badly wanting on the issue of the four persons that the ruling New National Party (NNP) government had proposed to be appointed to diplomatic positions in Hong Kong.
The so-called “blue-eyed boy” of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has gravely embarrassed the country on his handling of the issue and is looking as a total novice in charge of such an importantr ministry.
In the first instance, Mr. Steele and his ministry demonstrated a clear lack of knowledge by approaching the Hong Kong Directorate on the appointments when in fact the letter should have been sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing.
Secondly, the Chinese had to inform the minister that he was literally asking them to do something that was not right and proper based on the 2006 diplomatic agreement signed in 2006 when a former Mitchell administration re-established diplomatic ties with the Chinese on the Mainbland at the expense of Taiwan.
Any right-thinking person can conclude that Mr. Steele is ignorant of the contents of the agreement and might not have read it to understand what was possible and not feasible at all.
The Chinese might now be viewing Grenada as jokers in the field of diplomacy for this “senior” government minister to make such a basic mistake and diplomatic bungling that even a first year university student in International Relations ought to understand the principles involved in diplomatic letter writing.
It has been known since the late 1990’s that China is now considered as the sovereign state in diplomatic relations involving Hong Kong and that any letter on foreign policy ought to be addressed to the authorities in Beijing.
This “Hong Kong Tragedy” involving Minister Steele raises a very fundamental issue of the criteria used by the NNP government to appoint persons as diplomatic representatives of Grenada and the issuance of diplomatic passports.
This newspaper is submitting that our Foreign Affairs Minister made another major blunder by awarding the four nominees diplomatic passports long before the Chinese authorities made a determination on Grenada’s request to get them accredited to Hong Kong.
The four diplomatic passports should only have been granted to the persons so named in the official communique after it was a fait accompli that China had facilitated the process to make them diplomatic representatives of Grenada.
If these persons are now not accredited diplomats of Grenada, should they be allowed to hold onto these diplomatic passports?
What was the consideration of Mr. Steele and company in trying to flout diplomatic norms by seeking to get China to allow them to operate as diplomats? Who are these people Mr. Steele? What did they promise or were promised in return for their service? Sir, please tell us something about their track record.
This “Hong Kong Tragedy” also brings back into sharp focus the Eric Restenier briefcase issue and his appointment as an Ambassador of Grenada.
THE NEW TODAY is not focusing on the allegation that Dr. Mitchell collected a bribe of US$1 million for the appointment or “approximately US$15, 000.00 as he told the nation back then as reimbursement from Ambassador Resteiner for the PM’s travel expenses to Switzerland.
The issue is that Mr. Resteiner was appointed as an Ambassador and had a Grenada diplomatic passport and that no country was prepared to give him the necessary accreditation.
During the Richard Cheltenham Commission of Inquiry into the Briefcase matter, two senior public servants – current Cabinet Secretary Nadica Mc Intyre and the retired PS in Foreign Affairs, Adrian Haynes – testified about the efforts that were being made to find a country to accredit the fraudster Resteiner as a Grenada diplomat but no one wanted to touch this controversial figure.
Are we seeing a replay of the bad old days of Eric Restenier and others with this latest attempt to appoint persons as diplomats in Hong Kong and now rejected by the Chinese on the Mainland?
The Prime Minister has said on several occasions that his desire after the second 15-0 victory at the polls is to look after his legacy.
The Nickolas Steele handling of the “Hong Kong tragedy” is not serving to enhance this legacy of the PM Mitchell.
THE NEW TODAY is calling for the removal of Mr. Steele as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for him to be replaced by someone else who is more versed in the subjected matter like Deputy Prime Minister, Elvin Nimrod.
Mr. Steele ought to be told that the running of our Foreign Affairs Ministry is not like selling vehicles at his family-owned business at River Road.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs is the face of the nation and the modus operandi of Mr. Steele in winch he caused a major diplomatic embarrassment to the government and people of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique is something that the country can do without at this point in time.
The person holding the post of Foreign Affairs in the Cabinet of any country is like the Prime Minister of the country – not only the conscience of the nation but the only other person who is authorised to sign documents at the level of the Unite Nations on behalf of the country..
Is Mr. Steele fitting the bill?