[www.inewsguyana.com] – President David Granger and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, who are attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM 2015) in Malta, seized the opportunity to hold key bilateral meetings in the margins of the conference, even as the body elected a new Secretary General, Baroness Patricia Scotland.
Though Guyana had thrown its support behind Antigua and Barbuda’s candidate, Guyana-born Sir Ronald Sanders, President Granger said, in an interview with the Guyanese press corps, that the new Secretary General was selected in a clean and clear process and Guyana and all Commonwealth countries must support the Baroness.
“I am assured that the Commonwealth’s decision is going to receive the support of the member states and this is the way forward. We are looking to the future and we believe that the Commonwealth must rally around its Secretary General… and we are committed to working with the Secretary General for the improvement of the Commonwealth,” he said.
Following the opening ceremony of CHOGM 2015, at which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II addressed the leaders, President Granger, along with the other Heads of Government, attended the first Executive and working sessions in addition to a special session on climate action.
Importantly, President Granger and Minister Greenidge held a bilateral meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies of Singapore, Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
President Granger said that though Guyana has enjoyed good political relations with Singapore for a number of years, there has been a limited trade and economic relationship.
“Singapore is rich in education, rich in technology and we would like to develop relations with Singapore so that Guyana could be assisted in developing the infrastructure that we need, particularly the in the hinterland so that we can [have] access to our resources”, the President said.
Minister Greenidge added that investment potential was a key focus of the discussions and described the meeting as useful.
“The Prime Minister was very responsive and we agreed to have a mechanism that will allow us to concretise these inter-proposals projects.”
Guyana also discussed with the Singaporean delegation the Iwokrama International Rainforest Centre, in the context of increased attention on issues related to climate change globally.
The President said, “The important thing is that for nearly 25 years Guyana has put on the table the offer of the Iwokrama International Rainforest Centre and we feel that Singapore, as a member of the Commonwealth, could help to advance the work that we are doing in Iwokrama.”
On the agenda of the meeting was also the Venezuelan threat to Guyana’s territory. President Granger related that the Prime Minister was briefed on the developments with regard to the work of Secretary General of the United Nations to ensure a resolution is reached, even as Guyana seeks a juridical settlement.
In other bilateral meetings, Minister Greenidge met with the United Kingdom’s Rt. Hon Hugo Swire, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Though he was unable to go into details, Minister Greenidge described the meeting as fruitful. He said that Guyana and the United Kingdom used the opportunity to exchange information on areas of common interest and to confirm the mechanisms for deepening partnerships.
Minister Greenidge also met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Bert Koenders, where the discussion centered heavily on the Netherlands’s Candidature to the United Nations’ Security Council.
While Guyana discussed several areas of possible support, Minister Greenidge was keen on discussing the Netherlands’s role were they to gain a place on the Security Council.
“We went on to discuss issues such as the areas where the Netherlands would be interested in rendering assistance and more importantly, also, we were discussing mechanisms by which we might cooperate and, in the event that the Netherlands gets on the Security Council, the types of things that it would be promoting and that it would be working on. We drew to their attention our interest in having countries on the Security Council who don’t forget that there are small States that need to have their interests represented. We need advocates in the corridors of power who don’t leave behind those small states that helped them get elected,” the Minister said. [Extracted and modified from Ministry of the Presidency]