Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, says Ghana’s diplomatic engagement with the world has been at an all time high in 2018, indicating that the year has witnessed a more robust engagement by the Foreign Ministry with the world at both bilateral and multilateral levels.
Addressing an interactive forum organized by her Ministry for Regional Deans of the Diplomatic Community in Ghana, Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey said the instant meeting was put together to enable the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to assess how the diplomatic community views the cooperation that has existed between them and to exchange views on possible areas of further cooperation in the year 2019.
The African Region
In a brief overview of how the year has been in terms of diplomatic engagements, the Foreign Minister said the year has witnessed high-level visits aimed at deepening Ghana’s bilateral relations with various countries on the world.
“Within the African continent, the major highlights included the visit of H.E. President Nana Akufo Addo to Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone Rwanda, South Africa and Mali.” The President, according to the Foreign Minister, in the year under review, also welcomed several leaders from the African continent to Ghana such as the Liberian President, H.E. George Weah, H.E. President Alpha Conde of Guinea, H.E. President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré of Burkina Faso and H.E. President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone. She added that, “The year also witnessed an important step forward in our quest for continental unity, with the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area”.
On relations with Europe, Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey observed that Ghana has maintained excellent relations with European countries and the European Union. To this end, the Minister said President Akufo Addo undertook official visits to France, Germany and the United Kingdom. She on the other hand visited Romania, Lithuania, Latvia and Serbia, to further deepen relations.
The Americas, the Minister indicated, was an important part of foreign policy activities during the period under review. The President, she said, visited North America on various occasions and at one point held meetings with the US Congressional Black Caucus at the Capitol.
“Other high level officials from the United States, including the Secretary of Commerce, Hon. Wilbur Ross and an American business delegation also visited Ghana to discuss US private investment and commercial participation in key sectors of the Ghanaian economy,” she added.
Asia and Pacific Region
The Asia and Pacific region, Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey said, was not left out in the diplomatic engagements of Ghana in 2018. In the 2019, she said “Government will be engaging more countries in the region, including South Korea and Singapore, to explore further areas of cooperation.”
The Gulf Region
Ghana and countries in the Gulf, the Minister said, are currently experiencing very strong ties in their dealings. Ghana she said, opened a new Embassy in Doha, Qatar, whilst the State of Qatar reciprocated same by opening its Mission in Accra and appointed a resident Ambassador to Ghana.
“Our relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran, the two major powers in the region continue to improve and expand in all spheres,” the Minister stressed. She emphasized that, “Ghana continues to develop strategic and mutually beneficial relations with Israel, Jordon, Lebanon and the State of Palestine.”
Concerns and Challenges
The Minister invited the leadership of the diplomatic community to share their concerns, difficulties and observations with her and the Ministry so that adjustments can be made to ensure that they get all the required assistance to execute their mission in Ghana smoothly in the year 2019 and beyond. In all, there are five political regions and they are Africa, Europe, Americas, Middle East and Asia & Pacific. There is a Regional Dean for each Region and an Overall Dean for the entire Diplomatic Community in Ghana currently held by Bernard Ehui-Koutoua, Ambassador of Cote d’ lvoire to Ghana.
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps
Ambassador Bernard Ehui-Koutoua, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Ghana, in a brief remark at the Ceremony welcomed the thoughtful approach in engaging the Diplomatic Community in Ghana by the Foreign Minister, to understand the issues and concerns that Ambassadors and High Commissioners in Ghana have and the way forward in addressing same. He urged his colleagues to take advantage of the opportunity and table their challenges in order to get them addressed.