Two weeks after it was announced that Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland Therese Bap- tiste-Cornelis has been recalled to Trinidad and Tobago, Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Dookeran yesterday broke his silence on what led him to the decision.
Speaking to reporters at his Tunapuna constituency office, Dookeran said, "It was a general feeling that there was some act of political indiscretion as an ambassador to make such a statement."
When asked exactly to which statement from Baptiste-Cornelis's recent 37-minute speech at a conference in Geneva he was referring to, the minister said, "No part of it, it was general impropriety in terms of a diplomatic statement. In any event, her own interest was perhaps one in which she wanted to also move on."
In the June 15 speech, Baptiste-Cornelis refers to the Cabinet reshuffle in 2011 when she was removed as health minister.
She said she told Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar that her position was available if the Prime Minister wished to replace her.
Despite wanting to move on, Cornelis will not return to Trinidad on September 3 as previously stated.
Dookeran said she has requested to stay for an additional two weeks in Geneva to oversee Independence celebrations there. Dookeran said she has until September 17 to return to this country.
He said in every country, there were political appointees as ambassadors, but added there must be a good mix between career diplomats and political appointees.
He pointed to the Institute of International Relations which was set up to provide diplomacy training and said it needed to be better utilised.
He said the country cannot escape the need for political diplomats, but there must be improved training methods.
"I have already signalled to the officers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that we need a proper training programme for diplomacy and for preparing diplomats for the future," he said.
Dookeran said there was a process in place to appoint someone, but he did not say who was tipped as a replacement.
Dookeran was appointed to the position of Foreign Affairs Minister almost two months ago after the second Cabinet reshuffle in as many years.
He was previously the Minister of Finance.
He said yesterday that since the 2010 general election, it had been his wish to be Minister of Foreign Affairs.
"I've always had in interest in foreign relations as I indeed have an interest in finance," he said.
"I felt that I had completed a tour of duty in finance. We have put the balance sheets in order and we have created an insulated economy; now, it's a question of getting the right investments. Therefore, I felt that the challenge to go into foreign affairs may be a good challenge to get into at this time."