SPEECH OF HIS EXCELLENCY AMBASSADOR ALBERT SHINGIRO, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION ON THE OPENING OF INFORMATION AND EXCHANGE SEMINAR FOR NEWLY APPOINTED DIPLOMATS.
BUJUMBURA, APRIL, 8TH 2021
-Mr Permanent Secretary,
-Mr Minister Assistant
– Ladies and Gentlemen, newly appointed Diplomats,
– Ladies and Gentlemen, Senior Managers and State Managers
-Ladies and gentlemen journalists,
-Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished guests,
- It is with a great pleasure that I hold a speech before you to proceed to the solemn opening of this Seminar organized for the benefit of diplomats newly appointed by the Highest Authorities of our country.
- At the outset, I would like to extend a warm and cordial welcome to all of you guests and participants for your generous response to our invitation. I would particularly like to welcome among us the guests from other institutions of the Republic of Burundi, who have joined us to enrich our work with their experiences and testimonies on various themes on our agenda.
- Please, allow me also to extend my warm and cordial congratulations to all of you, newly appointed diplomats, for the confidence that the Highest Authorities of the Republic have placed in you. Among you, some are serving and others have already served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation: these ones I wish them a safe return to the homeland. For those who are new to the profession, I welcome you to the family of burundian diplomats.
- In doing so, before proceeding with your deployment, we have seen fit to organize for you, as newly appointed diplomats, a targeted information and exchange seminar, for a better knowledge and understanding of the responsibilities and expectations relating to the mission entrusted to you. This is practically an opportunity to provide diplomats with the tools and knowledge necessary to better master the diplomatic function, which nowadays aims to be more offensive, proactive, dynamic, efficient and active.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, the newly appointed Diplomats, the diplomatic mission entrusted to you is at the same time noble, exhilarating and compelling. It requires qualities of clairvoyance, intelligence, love of work, wisdom and patriotism. Diplomats must be constantly alert, proactive, creative and held to obligation for results.
- We expect a lot from you in this regard. I would like, without claiming to be exhaustive, to develop some expectations of burundian taxpayers who pay salaries to you once in your post.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, the newly appointed Diplomats, you will represent Burundi, a Sovereign State, which has proven to the world its dignity and which has been able to overcome many challenges, including the attempts of foreign interference in the internal affairs of our country. The people of Burundi are dignified, resilient, patient, hard-working, and very attached to their sovereignty. Therefore, be proactive in your mission to serve your country and your people through the defense of the sovereignty and vital interests of Burundi in your countries of accreditation.
- You will always keep in mind that the diplomatic representation, you will coordinate as a conductor, constitutes the State of Burundi in miniature transplanted to your country of accreditation. This presupposes that you have an in-depth knowledge of our Country, its internal and external politics, that you are endowed with the art of communicating well, convincing and persuading. You will have to reflect the beautiful brand image of Burundi in the countries and Organizations of jurisdiction through your attitude and your behavior in the defense of the vital interests of Burundi.
- In addition, during your contacts, you will have to talk about the way in which burundian people have won victories through their multiple political, security and socio-economic challenges. Hence the urgent need to know the principles and values to which Burundi attaches great importance: dignity, national unity, national sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence, non-interference in internal affairs of other States, friendly relations based on respect for the principles of sovereign equality of States and the rights of people and their rights to self-determination, the settlement of disputes by peaceful means.
- To these guiding principles are added international solidarity, multilateralism based on the rule of international law, acting according to the instructions of the capital, south-south and triangular cooperation to cite only that. In addition to the Burundi foreign policy document at your disposal, it is these principles and values that should guide your steps as Burundi’s head of mission abroad. Slipping into strict observance of these principles is not an option. You are required to respect them scrupulously.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, Heads of Diplomatic Missions, Representing the country also supposes knowing its socio-economic development projects, its vision and ambitions. During your noble mission, You will mobilize foreign investors, present them many business opportunities as well as the business climate in Burundi. You all know that since taking office, I immediately put mutually beneficial economic diplomacy at the center of my priorities. In the unique case of Burundi, this economic diplomacy will focus on promoting trade, attracting foreign investment, technology transfer, promoting industrialization and tourism.
- It is also recommended that you promote the National Development Plan 2018-2027. In fact, you will need to know its objectives, its main axes and its strategic orientations that make it up. You are aware that the long-term flagship objective of this plan aims to restore the structural balances of burundian economy through (I) the strengthening of food self-sufficiency and the diversification of exports through the promotion of businesses, agro-food, commercial and extractive industries, (II) development of the energy and craft sector, (III) construction and maintenance of infrastructure to support growth, (IV) improvement of access to basic social services, (V) continuation of environmental protection and regional planning programs, (VI) improvement of financial governance and decentralization, (VII) development regional and international partnership. This last point appeals to you the most. In all of this, man, in his dignity, must remain at the center of development as an actor and beneficiary.
- We therefore call on all of you, especially the newly appointed heads of mission to take full ownership of this national development plan 2018-2027 and to mobilize you more than ever as one man to demonstrate, once more your work force in order to achieve the socio-economic well-being much wished by our population.
- We also call on our technical and financial partners to increase their support for national efforts to implement the National Development Plan and the six priorities of the President of the Republic, through mutually beneficial cooperation that respects our principles and intrinsic values in which we believe.
- As you know, the development policy in Burundi could not succeed without peace, security, stability and reconciliation of burundian people. I invite you to interact with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as well as other commissions and specialized institutions to be able to answer questions of your fellow diplomats and avoid getting caught by the clutches of the cunning and manipulation that are commonplace in international relations.
- In addition, with regard to Communication, it is an essential tool at the internal level of your respective diplomatic missions, communication with the Capital, but also with the Countries and Organizations to which you will be accredited. You should always communicate fast, effectively and efficiently. However, any media release on ultra-sensitive issues must be measured and authorized by the capital. Too much communication is said to destroy communication. So be measured and communicate only when necessary and timely. Avoid talking too much, because when you talk a lot, you don’t listen enough. Your communication must be accurate, objective, clear, concise, and constructive and issued in a timely manner. Your communication as head of mission must not contain errors, inaccuracies, distortions and / or contradictions. Above all, it must be faithful to foreign policy, to orientations and instructions of the capital.
- Regarding to cooperation with the countries or organizations in your jurisdiction, it is a question of strengthening existing good relations, but also of bringing together traditional partners whose relations have grown cold in recent years. In fact, as His Excellency the President of the Republic clarified it, Burundi aims to build diplomatic relations based on mutual respect where certain States do not take the place of the international community to oppress other sovereign States. It is in this capacity that we remain open to countries and organizations that wish to develop closer ties with Burundi, to establish and maintain complementary relations on issues of common interest.
- Some issues are perplexing and require collaboration with many partners: these include, among others, global challenges such as climate change, the issue of international migration, the fight against terrorism, issues of peace and security, the reform of the United Nations Security Council, the protection of human rights, the fight against trafficking in human beings, objectives of sustainable development…. So be constructive in examining these international issues while obviously paying attention to our intrinsic principles and values which are the very foundation of our existence as a nation.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, the newly appointed Diplomats, the burundian diplomatic missions under your coordination must be alive, radiant and welcoming, both for nationals and for other partners. During your mission, you will have to work with the burundian diaspora as an important actor in development. You are therefore asked to develop a strategic partnership with burundian diaspora in a spirit of dialogue, understanding and inclusiveness. You must mobilize the diaspora to encourage them to contribute more to the building of their homeland and to cultivate the feeling of belonging to the great burundian nation. Those who spend their time maintaining the brand image of Burundi, try to make them change. This is part of your role as a chef de mission.
- At the internal level, a diplomatic mission requires good management with due diligence. You will have to promote dialogue, mutual respect, good governance and the management of public affairs in strict compliance with the law in this area and within the limits of the resources at your disposal. In this regard, allow me to share with you some budgetary principles of good financial management.
The principle of annuality: It expresses the idea that the budgetary authorization given to the executive to collect public revenue and implement expenditure is only valid for one year. Currently in Burundi, the budget exercises are based on a period from July 1 to June 30. This principle guarantees the sustainability of parliamentary powers and prevents the executive, having requested authorization once, from refraining from returning to Parliament to formulate its financial requests.
The principle of specialty: It concerns the expenses authorized by the budget: these are specialized, according to a budgetary nomenclature, which means that the executive must use appropriations, in principle limiting, according to their destination such as it results from the budget voted by Parliament.
The principle of unity: It expresses the idea that the budget of an entity must appear in a single document, for the sake of readability and transparency. In practice, this principle is subject to numerous adjustments (ancillary budgets, special accounts, and even the possibility of amending budgets during the financial year).
Budget universality: Fairly close to unity, budgetary universality requires that the budget describes, for the duration of the financial year, all expenditure and revenue. Here again, it is a question of ensuring the sincerity and transparency of the budgetary act.
It must be said that these four principles are classic with a fairly marked historical anchoring. Over the past fifteen years, new budgetary principles, in the process of legal identification, have appeared, in particular the principle of sincerity. I do not intend to develop this question in depth, you will have time to discuss it in a presentation planned for this seminar.
- In terms of working tools, beyond the recently adopted foreign policy and other relevant working documents made available to you by our Ministry, you must know the laws and instruments likely to help you make the partners understand, the objectives, visions and programs of the Government of the Republic of Burundi. These include the Constitution of the Republic of Burundi, the Charter of National Unity, the National Development Plan, the mining code, the investment code, the various codes of Burundian law, the commercial and industrial policy of Burundi, agricultural policy, teaching policy, … The same goes for the laws of your accreditation countries but also and especially the texts governing diplomatic relations, such as the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 and the Vienna Convention on consular relations of 1963, the Charter of the United Nations, the Constitutive Act of the African Union, the Treaty establishing the East African Community, etc … And above all, do not forget your bible or your koran.
- More specifically, as far as our country is concerned, you must internalize Burundi’s foreign policy and the diplomat’s guide. During this seminar, a specific communication on foreign policy and the Burundian diplomat’s guide is planned. I would ask you to listen carefully in this regard. The decree reorganizing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation must also remain on your work table at all times.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, newly appointed Diplomats, the main topics of discussion to be developed during this seminar are inspired by the government’s desire to make all state services in general and its diplomatic representations abroad more efficient and more productive in particular. I therefore invite you to carefully follow the various presentations and to participate actively in the discussions that will follow. These themes are in particular:
– Intelligence Techniques;
-The role of ENGOs in development;
-The fight against trafficking and smuggling of human beings;
-Leadership in building a modern State;
-The role of a Diplomat in promoting investments;
-Main articulations of Burundi’s foreign policy;
-Burundian Diplomat’s Guide;
-Good management of public finances.
- As far as I am concerned, as well as the services of the Central Administration, we are aware of the challenges that often arise in diplomatic missions. I reaffirm our full support to you throughout your mandate. The Cabinet and the Senior Directors are there to support you and make your job easier. Keep communication alive and active with these services.
- What do we expect from you? Burundi expects from you fulfilled, competent and proud diplomats to represent their country with dignity and to serve their people perfectly. The diplomatic war we waged between 2015 and part of 2020 has already been won, but the battle continues as rebuilding trust with some partners is a process. We are on the right track and we will have to embrace the progress already made and act in good faith and constructively.
- It is on these expectations that I declare open the information and exchange seminar for the newly appointed Burundian diplomats. I wish your work every success. There is no doubt that the conclusions of this seminar will have a positive impact on burundian diplomatic action, in which you are full players.
Thank you for your kind attention!