General News of Monday, 30 July 2001

Source: GNA

Diplomats urged to raise country's image

Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyeman, Minister of Foreign Affairs at the weekend threw a challenge to the country's diplomats to raise her image to enable both foreign investors and Ghanaians resident abroad to do business in Ghana.

Opening a seminar on the restructuring of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Akosombo attended by newly appointed heads of Ghana's missions, Mr Owusu-Agyeman said following the change of Government fresh impetus has been brought to bear on almost all areas of the national life.

"That positive change must also be reflected in the way we do things as a Foreign Ministry.

"We would want the old style of champagne diplomacy to give way to a new style of diplomacy where the focus would be on the attraction of the right kind of development partners to raise our standard of living and bring prosperity to all our citizens", the Minister said.

Mr Owusu-Agyeman said the ministry came under severe criticisms at the just ended "Homecoming Summit" about the way some diplomats discharged their duties, which alienated Ghanaians abroad.

"The lessons drawn from the summit clearly show that there is urgent need to refocus our foreign policy objectives, retool our missions abroad, restructure our operations and improve our support services to the missions."

He said the ministry must also address its image problem and attempt to respond to the challenges facing it domestically and externally.

He told them: "The country has joined the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative with its immediate task to attract resources and as early as possible move out of that unenviable category of countries through cost saving and more judicious use of limited resources".

The country's foreign policy formulation must, therefore, take account of both her circumstances and the mood of the ordinary Ghanaian. The ministry must be seen to be involving other stakeholders such as the Parliamentary Oversight Committee, the private sector and civil society in policy formulation.

Mr Owusu-Agyeman called for a proactive and aggressive public relations exercise for people to know what the missions are doing.

"We cannot shroud all our work in secrecy. We must tell people how we are marketing Ghana abroad and what aspects of Ghana, its culture and values we are reflecting or projecting to the outside world".