Sunday, October 4, 2015

A case of strategic ambiguity not non-commitment

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Dear Editor,

I read your news article headlined ‘Caricom foreign ministers non-committal on Guyana’s call for juridical settlement of Venezuela controversy’ published in your Thursday, October 2, edition. The news article is based on a press release issued after Tuesday’s meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers (Cofcor) held on the sidelines of the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

I think yours, in my view, is a misleading and unfortunate headline. I am not sure whose expectation it was that Caricom would publicly announce a position for or against Guyana’s preference for judicial settlement when a decision on the way forward is now in the purview of the UN Secretary General and his team is still to visit Venezuela before reporting back to him and submitting recommendations.

Cofcor was briefed at this meeting on Tuesday by Foreign Minister Carl Greenidge about the Secretary General’s meeting with Presidents Granger and Maduro and about developments on the issue since the Caricom heads last July in Barbados.What is most important is Caricom’s continued publicly expressed support, including in this latest press release, for the maintenance and respect of Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Your article refers to the views of “observers” but I also find it unfortunate that these “observers” couldn’t be so convinced of the soundness of their analysis as to allow for them to be quoted by name. When there is analysis of serious issues such as the Guyana-Venezuela controversy one would expect that the analysts would let the public know who they are. I sincerely hope that this is not Stabroek News injecting its own view, in effect editorialising in a news report and masking it by reference to “observers”. That would be unethical journalism.

I have had some training in and have been involved in the conduct of public diplomacy for some time and certainly the Caricom position as expressed in the press release does not amount to non-commitment to Guyana’s preference for a judicial settlement of the controversy. The press statement and by extension the Cofcor position can be described as strategically ambiguous, which is a much used mechanism in the conduct of public diplomacy.

Yours faithfully,

Wesley Kirton

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