Envoys of Sierra Leone, China, Cuba, India, South Africa, Israel, Poland and the Vatican have had their letters of credence accepted by His Excellency, President Adama Barrow at the State House in the past ten days. As part of the Barrow government’s foreign policy engagement, these form new efforts to refresh bilateral relations with friendly and partner countries around the world.
The diplomatic envoys took turns to present credentials to the President of the Republic, after inspecting guards of honour mounted by the Republican National Guards of the Gambia Armed Forces. For each meeting, discussions centred on issues of mutual interest, with key development priorities of the Barrow administration ranking high among the issues as spelled out in the development blueprint, the National Development Plan.
The Polish envoy, Mrs. Margareta Kassangana, based in Dakar and accredited to The Gambia, announced that her government will soon open an honourary consul in Banjul with hopes of renewing long relations that existed between the two countries. Mrs. Margareta maintained that The Gambia and Poland can do a lot by working together during this moment of transition for the country. Poland also went through such a transition almost 30 years ago, and the envoy said they are committed to sharing experiences with The Gambia.
President Barrow asked the envoy to encourage more Polish investors to The Gambia, especially with plans to open a new Poland mission in the country. “This would greatly improve communications between the two countries,” President Barrow said. Other issues such as human rights promotions and capacity building are areas of cooperation would include building democratic institutions, reform of other administrative institutions to business and investment opportunities.
The Vatican City
For the Vatican envoy, Monsignor Dajobesto Campos, based in Monrovia and accredited to The Gambia, The Vatican and The Gambia shared a good diplomatic relations. “We have been working together for the society, for the people and the world and other religions in general,” he said, lauding the good collaboration between the Church and the Barrow government.
During their discussions, President Barrow emphasised the importance of religion in society. He also talked about the contribution of the Catholic Mission in areas of health, education and agriculture in The Gambia. He said through their interventions, thousands of people were impacted positively in the country and beyond.
Israel and South African Ambassadors accredited to The Gambia presented their credentials to the Head of State on Wednesday, November 14, 2018.
“South Africa shared a similar history of difficult times that it overcame and transitioned to democracy. Gambia can learn from South Africa’s democracy and transitional justice examples, especially in the area of truth and reconciliation,” President Barrow told Ambassador Lenin Magigwane Shope in a closed-door engagement.
He further told the envoy that South Africa needs to demonstrate commitment to African integration for the benefit of all her peoples. He expressed readiness of his government to work with South Africa and others to make the continent the best in the world.
Ambassador Magigwane Shope on his part expressed commitment of his government to work with The Gambia, especially in the areas of investment and agricultural modernization, agro-processing and exports.
For Israel, the President continues to advocate for peace in the Middle East, and urges the two sides to come to the negotiation table in efforts to dialogue a way out of the long standing war. “It is only through dialogue that you can bring an end to conflicts of any given situation,” President Barrow said.
He recalled his meeting with President Netanyahu on the sidelines of the ECOWAS summit held in Togo a few months ago. The two leaders discussed economic progress and agricultural value addition in support of his Gambia’s national development plan. Ambassador Roi Rosenblit on his part expressed the goodwill of his government in supporting The Gambia in attaining the goals outlined in the national development plan 2018-2021.
Mrs. Lucretia Marian Shereef, the Sierra Leonean High Commissioner to The Gambia, a career educationist with over thirty years’ experience as a teacher, said she was happy to be in Gambia in a diplomatic capacity. Her focus would be on strengthening educational ties between the two countries, among other areas of interests.
Mr. Ma Jianchun, the new Chinese Ambassador in Banjul, coming from a commercial diplomacy background with 15 years’ experience as a diplomat in Africa and the Middle East, promised to work in consolidating bilateral ties in the context of the Forum for Africa-China Cooperation.
President Barrow in extending best wishes of his government to President Xi Jinping, expressed hopes for the new China-Gambia relations. He said he was happy that a contractor has been identified for the two bridges and highways to be constructed in the Upper River Region. This will be followed by the laying of foundation stone sooner.
“I am so pleased with relations of our two countries and I and my government will give all the support we can to China,” President Barrow said, urging that they work together closely to enhance economic growth and modernisation of agriculture in The Gambia.
President Barrow also expressed appreciation for the support given by India to The Gambia, especially in education, agriculture and construction of National Assembly building. He urged that India opens a mission in Gambia in a bid to bring about closer ties between the two governments and peoples.
“Value addition to local produce, technological innovations and health service deliveries are very high on my government’s development blueprint, the National Development Plan. Technology is also a great tool for the empowerment of our youth through employment creation. Hence we should work together in realising dreams of our two countries,” President Barrow said.
India is currently the biggest exporter of cashew nuts from The Gambia. Ambassador Rajeev Kuma said he and the President also talked about Gambia’s sea port expansion and development especially given that its strategic location makes it more preferred gateway for many West African traders.
He also thanked Cuban leader and her people, through its new Ambassador, Mr. Ruben Garcia Abalenda, for standing by The Gambia in its most difficult times. Cuba provided support to the health sector by deploying doctors to The Gambia and training Gambian doctors in Cuba.