Dominica: Prime Minister of Commonwealth of Dominica – Dr Roosevelt Skerrit has announced the suspension of the diplomatic relations between the Governments of Dominica and the Arab Republic of Syria on March 18, 2022 (Friday).
In an official statement, Prime Minister Skerrit mentioned, “Earlier this week, I received official confirmation from the Minister of Foreign Affairs that a signing ceremony had taken place, effectively establishing diplomatic relations between the Governments of the Commonwealth of Dominica and the Arab Republic of Syria.”
He further mentioned that this matter has been creating trouble on several fronts and stated, “I registered my absolute bewilderment by this development”.
“The Minister himself made clear in the correspondence that he was not a party to the signing and indeed was fundamentally opposed to the move at this time. Those were my immediate sentiments as well. Indeed, in my response to the Minister, I registered my “absolute bewilderment by this development” on Monday afternoon. I indicated that this matter was troubling, on several fronts, and that it needed to be explained as a matter of urgency,” the statement read.
The statement further highlighted that someone could not just read something on the internet and just rush to pass the judgement on it; the management of sensitive governance matters requires due process. It further informed that the Government must act maturely responsibly as well as should follow certain protocols and processes.
Considering this matter, when PM Skerrit was informed about this diplomatic tie, he immediately passed instructions for Dominica’s Ambassador to the United Nations to be summoned to an urgent, in-person meeting in my office on March 17, 2022 (Thursday), as per the statement.
The meet was not just attended by relevant public officers but also by four senior government ministers and senior legal counsel to the Government. The statement informed that these ministries were not only invited “to sit in on the meeting but more so to participate fully”.
During the meeting, the circumstance that would have led to the signing of a document constituting an agreement for the establishment of diplomatic relations with Syria was closely examined. The meeting was concluded, and the experts decided that the agreement would be suspended. Under current circumstances, prime minister Skerrit stated that the Dominican Government is not ready to join hands with the Syrian Government.
The statement underlined, “I expressed my outrage at this development and indeed the outrage of several Dominicans living at home and abroad. This is not the time and place for me to comment on recent and indeed current civil and socio-political developments in Syria. But suffice to say that the Government that I have the honour to lead was and still is not in support of establishing or pursuing relations with Syria under the current circumstances.”
He added that the instructions had been given to appropriately communicate the message from Roseau to Syria. “Accordingly, following the meeting of yesterday’s date, I have instructed that the appropriate communication be dispatched from Roseau to Syria, setting out clearly the policy and position of this government and that provisions of the document assigned be considered suspended indefinitely,” the released notification stated.
The statement further clarified that PM Skerrit had spoken to Ambassador Lorraine Bannis-Roberts in light of her own admitted lapse of judgement in this particular matter. Prime Minister has accepted the resignation from Ambassador Bannis-Roberts from the post of Resident Ambassador. As per the official statement, “The resignation takes effect May 31, but the outgoing Ambassador shall proceed on leave from all duties from Friday, March 18.”
It further mentioned that as Prime Minister, Skerrit would announce the name of Dominica’s new Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
In the end, Prime Minister Skerrit stated that this is a time for us all to put the interest of Dominica first and foremost in our thoughts, words and actions. It further read, “We are all aware of the deteriorating circumstances in Syria, and I know that it is painful and indeed heart wrenching to see the impact of the current practices and policies of the administration there. I do hereby apologize to all adversely impacted by said developments, especially where such discomfort would have been aggravated by the action of our serving Head of Mission in New York.
I appeal once again for a reason and good judgement. I also appeal for those who apparently long to see the collapse of the CBI to ponder for a moment the source of the magic wand that would overnight replace this initiative and guarantee Dominicans an affordable existence, particularly as it strives with the rest of the world to emerge from the bad-effects of the Covid-19 and ongoing global events, not least of which is the escalating war over the future of Ukraine.”
Through the statement, Prime Minister Skerrit clarified that no existing laws were broken and there was nothing unlawful about the act of the Ambassador. Asset out in the Minister’sMinister’s note to me on March 14, the process of establishing Diplomatic Relations can either be initiated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Business and Diaspora Relations, on the instructions of Cabinet, or by a foreign government writing officially to express interest in establishing relations with the Government of Dominica.