the Disillusioned kid: Friendly Fire
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Thursday, December 30, 2004

Friendly Fire

Vijay S. Makhan, Mauritian Secretary for Foreign Affairs has an article in l'express dimanche looking at Mauritus' foreign policy. It isn't exactly stimulating reading, but I picked up on the following passage:
Defending and preserving our sovereignty and territorial integrity has been an underlying characteristic of our foreign policy. Our relentless diplomatic initiatives relating to our sovereignty claims on the Chagos Archipelago and Tromelin are a testimony of the importance we attach to this issue. These "friendly disputes" are of considerable concern to us and our endeavours have highlighted the legitimacy of our cause as reflected by the support we have mustered from the International Community. The struggle continues.
For more on some of these efforts with regard to the Chagos Archipelago see here.

The extent of their international support is, in fact, not as clear as Makhan suggests. With regard to Chagos, Mauritius certainly has the support of the African Union and apparently also the Commonwealth in its sovereignty claim, but beyond that remains to be seen.

I was particularly struck by Makhan's description of the disputes as "friendly". While I don't know much about the dispute over Tromelin (details in the comments box if you do), friendly is hardly the word I'd use to describe the dispute over Chagos. On a visit to the UK earlier this year, Mauritian PM Paul Berenger sought meetings with Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. Both were apparently unable to meet him, Blair apparently on account of "diary commitments". Commonwealth general secretary Don McKinnon rebuked the government, for this and their decision to implement the Orders in Council which bar the islanders from the archipelago only days before, remarking, "You do not hit someone over the head before they come to your front gate." Even Bush managed to meet talk with Berenger when he came to the US and, as I noted at the time, when you're being outdone by George W. Bush in the diplomacy stakes, something's very wrong.

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