The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is in the process of drafting a foreign policy document, which is expected to guide the conduct of Botswana’s foreign relations.
This was said by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Phandu Skelemani, at the official opening of the ministerial Foreign Policy Pitso.
Skelemani said that a successful foreign policy or any other policy should be rooted on the principles of openess, transparency and inclusiveness which would consequently lead to ownership by Batswana. Skelemani said that the management of international relations is a complicated process that requires careful decision making, adding that, as such, the fluid and unpredictable nature of the international system makes the formulation and implementation of a foreign policy a highly daunting exercise.
Skelemani noted that this is because a foreign policy always has to effectively respond to the ever changing events in the national arena.
He said that although Botswana’s domestic interests are important to the formulation of a foreign policy strategy ,the globalization process has a role to play as well because it dictates that Botswana should simultaneously accommodate the interests of others, including the development partners, multinational corporations and multilateral institutions.
Skelemani added that there are still at the initial stages where there are many questions and challenges that they are dealing with in the process to develop the foreign policy guide.
The Pitso event was going under the theme: Botswana’s Foreign Policy in the 21st Century: Priorities, Challenges and opportunities.
Skelemani said that the Pitso forum offers a unique opportunity for the Ministry to collectively and frankly engage in a very important exercise of “shaping Botswana foreign policy, which as we all know is aimed at advancing Botswana’s national interest abroad, in this fast globalizing and inter dependent world”.
He added that in line with the country’s national principle of consultation, the ministry has seen it appropriate to convene the consultative meeting in order to gather the views of those involved because they are well placed to strategically position Botswana to obtain maximum benefits from Botswana’s engagement with the international community.
Skelemani pointed out that the country’s foreign policy is primarily determined by its domestic interest and as such Botswana’s foreign policy has been historically guided by, among others, democracy, self reliance, unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of nations. He said that these historical points are still valid as the country continues to use them to contend with a broader agenda.
“As a result of the deepening level of globalization and transnational activities, Botswana as a member of the community of nations has to rethink its foreign policy posture and adjust as necessary,” he said.
Skelemani said that the Pitso consultative gathering was, therefore, meant to gather input from various stakeholders which will assist the ministry in determining and validating the fundamental principles that should be the foundation of Botswana foreign policy posture, adding that the main objective is to ensure that foreign policy remains true to its intention of promoting and nurturing the interest and aspirations of the people of Botswana.
He noted that the successful implementation of Botswana’s foreign policy will no doubt depend on closer and effective collaboration with stakeholders to ensure coordinated effort which means there is an absolute need for the ministry to improve its coordination and facilitation role to ensure that Botswana speaks to the international community in a coherent and consistent manner. He added that Botswana’s geo political location dictates that the country should maintain and nurture the principle of peaceful coexistence and good neighbourliness.
One of Botswana priorities, he said, should aim to enhance the relations and deepen cooperation with the neighboring countries, adding that Botswana should be equally vigilant and ensure that it uses its membership in regional and international organizations to solicit assistance and collaborative partnerships “to curb the multifaceted global challenges we face as a developing country”.