By Floyd French

Observer Reporter

(Basseterre, St. Kitts) – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade hopes to the get the world better acquainted with the Federation and vice versa during Diplomatic Week 2008.

Special events are scheduled to run from Feb. 12 – 21.

Minister responsible for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Hon. Timothy Harris, highlighted the goals of the week of activities.

The week will offer St. Kitts and Nevis the opportunities to engage in constructive dialogue with the international community “on matters of particular and special importance” and hear what contributions other countries can make to the “achievement of the Government’s stated priorities,” he said.

Mr. Harris also said that the week will provide an opportunity for the diplomats to get better acquainted with the people of the Federation.

“We value the opportunity to showcase St. Kitts and Nevis to the rest of the world,” Mr. Harris said.

The week will provide the Federation with a better understanding of the roles of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, foreign policy and diplomacy in national development, he said.  It will also allow the business community – “capital” – to interact with the diplomatic and consular community “thereby creating a mechanism for easier communication and better understanding between both parties,” Mr. Harris said.

In addition, the minister said that this year’s theme, “Maximising benefits from international relations, building partnerships for mutual advantage,” is a reflection of the “fierce urgency of now.”  He stressed the need for what he called “capacity building” to offset the Federation’s internal challenges that arise from globalisation and external events.  “We must be able to formulate and articulate a well-informed foreign policy which would guide our diplomatic initiatives and actions if we are to utilise scarce resources which are available to us,” the minister said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been proactive in its foreign relations mission, Mr. Harris said. He informed the media of a recently established foreign affairs committee of local experts to serve as a think tank.

“It draws up on the expertise resident within the country, with some knowledge of international relations, international issues, public administration and bring the benefit of that resident expertise to guide and shape our foreign policy development,” he said..

The events for the week begin Feb. 17 with a Church Service at the Estridge Moravian Church. The St. Kitts and Nevis Cabinets along with the Governor-General and other officials will be in attendance.  There will be public lectures and radio call-in shows throughout the week.