State House, Freetown, Thursday 23 August 2018 – His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio has officially opened a three-day induction for Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Financial Attaches, noting that the idea to prepare them for a new life is very important.
In his keynote address, at the Conference Hall on Tower Hill of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, President Bio thanked the host for conceptualising the orientation for diplomats that outlined key elements of the broader vision of the government’s foreign policy trajectory in line with the New Direction manifesto.
He said the foreign ministry had faced many challenges over the years and observed that many institutions, charged with the responsibility of servicing the country’s international relations and the promotion of her national interest, were barely capable making any significant marks on the international scene and enhancing Sierra Leone’s image on the world stage.
“By the time I assumed office, it was very difficult for our country to attract the much needed foreign direct investments. The lack of clear foreign policy direction and the low calibre of some of the people appointed in the past as diplomats to pursue our country’s interest abroad, constituted a precarious challenge to increasing the gains from the country’s diplomatic and foreign relations,” he said.
He noted that the induction session marked both a defining moment in the country’s history and also a major turning point for his government’s foreign policy trajectory, adding that, the ceremony again signified a new and vibrant foreign policy approach for the country. He called on the new diplomats to have a clear focus on promoting favourable development and trade relations consistent with the evolving global trends for the country’s long-term national economic development.
“Together, we have chosen to lead this nation onto a new path. This new path must be progressive, result-oriented and disciplined. We must put our country first and extol our potentials as a force for good in the international system. It cannot be business as usual. The people of Sierra Leone deserve better. We have to be the gold standard and to consistently deliver what we promised,” he averred.
Whilst acknowledging the immunities attached to diplomats in their host countries as guaranteed by the Vienna Conventions on diplomatic relations of 1961 and the consular relations of 1963, President Bio pleaded with the new diplomats not to misuse or abuse those diplomatic privileges. He said they should rather effectively use those privileges to facilitate productive bilateral relations between Sierra Leone and the accredited countries.