MONROVIA: Liberia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., has encouraged Liberian Ambassadors, Consul Generals, Chargé d’Affaires and other diplomatic staff across the globe to ensure that they deliver maximum representation for the Liberian people through their respective services abroad.
Speaking at the start of a four-day virtual retreat for Ambassadors and Heads of Mission, Minister Kemayah reiterated his commitment to working towards the much needed support that his colleagues desired in the field to complement their efforts.
“This retreat is intended, as one of the objectives, to ensure that through your respective services abroad, our emphasis which is on economic and development diplomacy, can be realized not only to the benefit the Liberian people, but to the actualization of the vision and agenda of President George Weah,” Amb. Kemayah noted.
The virtual retreat, which was held from Tuesday-Friday, December 1-4, 2020, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia, brought together participants at the home office who made in-person contributions, as well as the twenty-five ambassadorial missions and two consulates.
Minister Kemayah indicated that as someone who has served in the field himself, a lot has been achieved across the various missions; however, a number of steps need to be taken in terms of complementing their efforts.
He further noted that in order to achieve the objective of enhancing the future of the foreign policy of Liberia, infrastructure, logistics and human resources are central factors of appraisal; hence, the Ministry has embarked on stock taking exercises through retreats, brainstorming sessions, meetings and other helpful ventures.
It can be recalled that consistent with the quest for functional transformation towards effective service delivery and timely response to duties, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, under the leadership of Minister Kemayah, has initiated a reform agenda under the rubric: “Envisioning and enhancing the future of the foreign policy agenda of the Republic of Liberia – during and post COVID-19”, which is in sync with the shared vision of President Weah.
This virtual retreat, which targeted ambassadors, chargé d’affaires, consul generals and other diplomatic staff of Liberia’s Diplomatic Missions, is phase two of a previous retreat held recently for about One hundred participants from across departments, bureaus, sections and units within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The objective of the retreat, like the previous one, was to develop a common understanding to enhance the shared vision of President George Manneh Weah, as enshrined in the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).
Minister Kemayah expressed hope that the opportunity of meeting in-person, which COVID-19 has robbed the entire globe of, can be restored shortly to enable the holding of subsequent retreat of this nature in-person.
Delivering a keynote message at the retreat, Ambassador Laurent Delahouse, Head of Delegation of the European Union to Liberia, praised Foreign Minister Kemayah for pushing reform to strengthen integrity and credibility of the Liberian Passport and to improve accessibility and affordability, with the reduction of 20 percent in the price paid by applicants.
Amb. Delahouse cautioned participants that the image of a country starts with its representatives. As such, diplomats must be exemplary in their attitude and actions because they represent their countries.
“In particular, diplomats must be very strict with immunities; they are a protection but they also bring duties and responsibilities. Immunities only protect diplomats within the boundaries of their professional activity. They don’t offer protection against acts of a private nature that contradict local rules and regulations,” he said.
He added that a diplomatic network’s contribution to the prosperity of its country comes in three main forms – developing economic relations by supporting the development of trade and attracting investors, fostering the exchange of people, and the efficiency of processing visa requests.
Making remarks via zoom at the climax of the retreat, Ms. Alyson Grunder, Chargé d’Affaires of the United States Embassy near Monrovia, said she was privileged to have listened to the opening session of the gathering; while affirming that Liberia is a consequential nation to the United States, to Africa and to the world.
According to Ms. Grunder, Liberia’s unique history, enormous strides, remarkable accomplishment and resilience have set the country apart. She urged the Liberian diplomatic community in the dialogue to build their points in terms of sustainability and investment.
Speaking briefly, on behalf of the Liberian female diplomats, Amb. Musu Jatu Ruhle, Liberia’s Ambassador to Sierra Leone, indicated that Foreign Service Officers make lots of sacrifices in promoting the country’s image, noting that it is for the love of country that they make those sacrifices.
As members of the diplomatic community, she said they know that it is duty before complaint, while serving with diligence. However, she recommended that all issues put forth by the participants should be reviewed in the interest of easing the challenges faced by the Foreign Service staff.
Also speaking for the male diplomats, Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States, Amb. George Patten, said the retreat provided them the opportunity to see each other, take stock of what they have done and the challenges that lie ahead.
He noted that some of the challenges faced today are not new to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Foreign Service, but stressed the need to implement some of the recommendations that came out of the retreat for the good of the country and the Foreign Service.
Additionally, the Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps and Guinean Ambassador to Liberia, Abdoulaye Dore said, the realization of all that was discussed lies upon the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He suggested that despite the will power of all the Liberian ambassadors accredited to foreign missions, nothing can be done when the home office is not giving them the opportunity. He cautioned that if the means are not available, all those projects will remain in the drawer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.