Roseau, Dominica: Prime Minister Dr Roosevelt Skerrit officially declared the suspension of the agreement of establishing diplomatic relations between the governments of the Commonwealth of Dominica and the Arab Republic of Syria.
On Friday, March 18, 2022, PM Skerrit issued a statement on the matter and stated that the Minister of Foreign Affairs had made clear in the correspondence that they were not a party to the signing, and on Monday afternoon, PM Skerrit registered “absolute bewilderment by this development”.
He further explained the matter, indicating that it was a clear lapse of judgment on Ambassador Loreen Ruth Bannis-Roberts. At the end of the session, it was apparent and evident that there was a clear lapse of judgment on the part of the Ambassador to have proceeded with the signing of such documents without consultation or instruction from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ultimately the Cabinet of Ministers.
PM Skerrit noted, “I went on to indicate that this matter was troubling, on several fronts, and that it needed to be explained as a matter of urgency. I should pause here to point out that the management of sensitive matters of governance requires what is commonly referred to as “due process”.
PM Skerrit asserted that when the matter came to his notice, he immediately gave instruction for Dominica’s Ambassador to the United Nations to be summoned to an urgent, in-person on March 17, 2022, and all the relevant public o0fficers, such as four senior government ministers and senior government ministers and senior legal counsel to the Government.
In the two hours of the meeting, PM Skerrit and other officials have examined what would have led to the signing of a document constituting an agreement for the establishment of diplomatic relations with Syria.
While explaining the procedure of establishing any diplomatic relations, PM Skerrit affirmed that the process of establishing Diplomatic Relations could 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.
Further, through its embassy in Cuba, the Government of Syria wrote the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirming interest in establishing diplomatic relations with Dominica. But PM Skerrit said that neither the Minister nor the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Roseau gave instruction or did they express interest in or desire to pursue the establishment of relations with Syria at this or any foreseeable time.
“We all have watched in horror and observed social, political and indeed heinous developments in Syria. Such a decision would, therefore, not have been taken without due consideration. At that meeting, the Ambassador was permitted to explain her reasoning and actions. She was crossed examined by Public officers, senior ministers and senior counsel”, underscored prime Minister.
While expressing his outrage over the development, PM Skerrit affirmed,”. This is not the time or 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 4 establishing or pursuing relations with Syria under the current circumstances”.
Accordingly, following the meeting of yesterday’s date, he has 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.
PM Skerrit further added that the Government of Dominica has formally tendered her resignation of Ambassador Bannis-Roberts from the post of Resident Ambassador and have accepted that resignation. The resignation takes effect May 31, but the outgoing Ambassador shall proceed on leave from all duties, effective today, Friday, March 18.
In due course, as Prime Minister, he shall announce the name of Dominica’s new Permanent Representative to the United Nations. He also takes this opportunity also to address the concerns of many, at home and abroad, who would have been impacted in some way or the other by the news of this most recent development.
While justifying his decision of suspension, PM Skerrit asserted that people are aware of the deteriorating circumstances in Syria, and he knows that it is painful and indeed heart wrenching to see the impact of the current practices and policies of the administration there.
PM Skerrit further apologizes 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. Such actions did not reflect the policy, thinking or attitude of the Government and people of Dominica to the atrocities that were taking place in that country.
“We stand shoulder to shoulder with the majority of member states of the 5 United Nations in condemning civil, social, economic and political developments in Syria. In Dominica, it is unfortunate that, as usual, some of us saw the need to carry this slip-up to unimaginable levels of raw partisan politics. I am still at a loss to understand how this clear lapse in judgement could have been associated in any way to the management of our Citizenship by Investment Program,” the Prime Minister added.
PM Skerrit stated that some persons appear so bent on undermining global confidence and ultimately destroying the CBI program of Dominica that they would seize every opportunity to bring it into international disrepute.
He again warns this country that, especially as they are still in the throes of a life-altering pandemic, they do a severe disservice by constantly chopping at the limb on which we stand.
Outlining the importance of the CBI programme for Dominica, PM Skerrit explained that Several other sectors of the economy of Dominica are slowly re-emerging, but they are not there yet. The CBI program is playing a very, very major role in our societal survival.
The matter of the establishment of relations with Syria was a lapse of judgement on the part of an individual, and it has now been dealt with in a manner universally followed and accepted, clarified PM Skerrit on relations with Syria.