"My government has a great deal of respect for many of the achievements of President Jammeh and his government, often in the face of very serious and challenging obstacles," says the British high commissioner to The Gambia.
His Excellency David Morley, who also underscored that relations between The Gambia and its former colonial master, the United Kingdom "seem pretty good", was speaking exclusively to the Daily Observer Thursday morning during an interview at the British High Commission in Fajara. Further commenting on the ties that bind the two countries, High Commissioner Morley said:
"My colleagues in London get on well with the Gambia high commissioner in London who does a good job for your country. As I always say, the 40-50,000 British tourists who come here every year can't all be wrong. They would quickly and easily go elsewhere if they didn't feel safe and comfortable here. And many Gambians live, study and work in the UK.Our two communities have many ties."
The British non-governmental organisations and charities, both in country and offshore, according to the high commissioner, continue to work hard supporting Gambian communities.
He continued: "The partnerships between the parties are a pleasure to see, and many have been going for a long time.Again, they would not be able to be so effective without an underlying stable bilateral relationship. Ministers and officials here, with whom I interact on a regular basis, do their very best to help me deliver my objectives.
They are always extremely cooperative and helpful.And we will always do whatever we can to help The Gambia achieve its own objectives - for example we offered strong support to Mrs. Bensouda's ICC candidature and were delighted when she bagged the job.But I will never become complacent.There are always bumps in the road in any bilateral relationship, but here I have found that when these occur they are resolved quickly, discretely and effectively."
Commenting on his country's support to the Gambia's development blueprint, the Vision 2020, High Commissioner Morleysaid that the UK wants to see a successful and secure Gambia. "Without a clear strategy," he said, "no enterprise can succeed," saying "this country's aspirations, and plans, as expressed in Vision 2020, seem to us to be entirely appropriate".
"A great deal of support, via the UN and EU programmes many millions of dollars is poured into The Gambia every year, focused on the relevant themes of Vision 2020.But only the Gambian people themselves can deliver the progress," he asserted.
The UK chief diplomat to The Gambia posited that one specific example of how they support the Vision could be the resources deployed by the UK government to offer consular support to all the thousands of UK, unrepresented EU and unrepresented Commonwealth nationals, who visit the country every year.Without these tourists, he said, The Gambia would struggle economically.
He added: "I am realistic in appreciating that the development and future direction of this country does not necessarily lie with its old friends.Your government's economic strategies clearly identify emerging markets as the best source of potential new investment.
Regional matters dominate the local agenda - for example the Senegambia Bridge and the wider relationship with Senegal especially on the Casamance, security issues Mali and Guinea Bissau, relations with Ecowas and the AU, establishment of The Gambia as an important hub for trading, inward investment and other purposes, and many other things.Looking beyond the region, The Gambia's relationship with Taiwan will always be crucial."
For more on this exclusive interview with the British high commissioner to The Gambia, please read the full text in our next week's Friday edition of the Bantaba where this top diplomat touched on many vital areas, especially the ties between the two countries, as well as other emerging developments.