Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation, the Honourable Mark Brantley, said that St. Kitts and Nevis continues to maintain strong bilateral relations with key partners globally as effective bilateral diplomacy is essential to advancing the Federation’s external interests.
“Our bilateral relations with key partners such as Canada and the United States remain strong. We expect that with ease of quarantine and travel restrictions that face-to-face engagements at ministerial and ambassadorial levels will be on the rise,” said Minister Brantley during his Budget 2022 Presentation on December 16.
Minister Brantley said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Aviation will continue to build on such relationships to further strengthen bilateral relations. “As a ministry, we shall continue to seek means of convergence with all of our partners, that we advance our discussions and actions around our mutual interests,” he said.
The Foreign Minister highlighted some of the fruits of diplomacy that St. Kitts and Nevis has reaped, including scholarships, training, vaccines among others.
“We continue to seek scholarships from our traditional and non-traditional partners to provide opportunities for personal and professional advancement for our young people. This year Mr. Speaker, we have seen students traveling to Azerbaijan, Morocco and Serbia for the very first time in our history pursuing undergraduate programmes. I am also told that we now have students studying in Romania. That too, is a first for St. Kitts and Nevis,” said the Minister. “We were also able to assist several nationals with the processing of scholarship and training applications and negotiate for increased opportunities for more nationals.”
Minister Brantley also highlighted the continuous assistance from the Republic of China (Taiwan). This year, 17 nationals were awarded scholarships to study in Taiwan – 15 for undergraduate and two (2) for PHDs. Foreign Minister Brantley congratulated all the recipients, especially those who graduated this year from universities in Taiwan and Cuba.
To wrap up his presentation, Minister Brantley commended Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris for the funds allocated to support the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Aviation.
“We pledge Mr. Speaker, as we have done in previous years, to manage our funds effectively and more prudently as a responsible part of a greater whole,” he said. “I am hopeful Mr. Speaker, that 2022 will usher in a slew of opportunities which we intend to seize. There is a multiplicity of issues such as access to concessionary funding; flawed graduation criteria based solely on GDP; climate change and access to climate financing; resilience; sustainable development in the Sustainable Development Goals; building back better post-COVID; access to vaccines and vaccine hesitancy. We anticipate a very robust schedule next year,” Minister Brantley added.
For the financial year 2022 – January 01 to December 31, the allocation for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Aviation is $25,467,768.