Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 08, 2017 (SKNIS): The Honourable Mark Brantley, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation, said that his ministry has made significant strides with regards to engaging other countries since assuming office in February 201, by formalizing relations with 13 additional countries.
Minister Brantley was at the time speaking at the “Good Governance and Accountability for Prosperity” town hall meeting on Tuesday, February 08, at the Newtown Community Centre, emphasizing that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been very hard at work as it has formalized additional relations with countries within the last two years.
“I am very proud to tell you that in the last two years the nation of St. Kitts and Nevis has established diplomatic relations with Belarus, Bolivia, Croatia, Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, Kenya, Kosovo, The Maldives, Mauritius, Mongolia, The Gambia, Saudi Arabia and Senegal,” said the minister of foreign affairs. “In relation to the second plank of what we have been doing, that second plank is really trying to make it easier for you the people of St. Kitts and Nevis to travel the globe…when you present your passport that says St. Kitts and Nevis, there should be no impediments to you traveling. And so we have embarked on a journey of negotiating what we call reciprocal visa waiver arrangements with various countries and all that means is that we allow them to come to us without a visa and they allow us to go to them without a visa.”
The foreign minister explained to all that being afforded such an opportunity has “particular value because passports and how passports are treated” carry a ranking.
“One of the indicators of your ranking is how many countries you can visit without a visa. What that tells the world is the number of countries that have confidence in our country and confidence in the citizenry of our country, that we are law abiding…once they are satisfied, they extend that courtesy to us and we do the same to them,” said Minister Brantley. “And our passport as a result, I am very proud to say we were at one point fourth in the region in terms of ranking; we were fourth because Bahamas, Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda were ahead of us. I can now say confidently that with the efforts that we have put in in the last two years we have now leapfrogged over Antigua and very soon I expect that St. Kitts and Nevis will have the strongest and most popular passport in the entire Caribbean region.”
Minister Brantley addressed the matter of his travels, noting that persons should understand that as the minister of foreign affairs he was given a mandate from Cabinet to expand the diplomatic footprint of St. Kitts and Nevis and his travels are centered on such.
“What this means simply put is that we need to get out and we need to engage more with the rest of the world. The world is changing; it is no longer waiting on you; you need to go out and demand attention; you need to go out and engage with other countries,” he said. “Engage with countries that have similar interest and sometimes even if all of our interest doesn’t coincide you still have to engage with countries in multilateral forums throughout the world whether it is the United Nations, IMF or the World Bank.”
He further added that as a country, St. Kitts and Nevis is expected to engage with other countries and as the minister he will do all in his power to ensure that the Federation builds robust relationships with diverse countries in pursuit of its development agenda and promotion of international priorities.
To date, citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis can travel to Kosovo, Brazil, Ukraine, The Maldives, Indonesia, Seychelles and Bolivia without a visa. Minister Brantley said that Paraguay, Rwanda, Ethiopia, the United Arab Emirates (Dubai), Kuwait and Brunei are expected to be added to the list very shortly.