“My priority is to uphold the foreign policy and vision put in place by our enlightened Monarchs”: Foreign Minister Lyonpo Damchoe Dorji

  1. There are 53 countries that Bhutan has formal diplomatic relations with, are there any plans from the government’s side to further increase the number?

For the moment, we will focus on consolidating relations with countries with which we already have diplomatic ties rather than expand ties for the sake of it. There has to be sound logic and rationale when we decide to expand diplomatic relations, which is normally determined by political, economic and strategic interests. The decision regarding countries Bhutan chooses to establish diplomatic relations is our prerogative. Bhutan does have not formal diplomatic relations with many countries but that has not prevented us from enjoying good relations and also engaging with them.

  1. What are your top priorities after getting familiar with all the important issues in the ministry?

I met with the senior officers and staff this week and got a thorough briefing about the roles and mandates of each Department / Division. It was an interactive session where all the officers were encouraged to express the challenges they faced.

My priority is to uphold the foreign policy and vision put in place by our enlightened Monarchs, which has served us well throughout the ages, including during troubled times in the neighborhood and beyond.

  1. how does it feel like to work in Ministry of foreign Affairs since the job is completely different?

As I mentioned to my colleagues in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) at our first joint meeting last week, I feel honored to be serving in the Foreign Ministry whose role is to protect and promote Bhutan’s national interests in the political, economic and security spheres, which is a very big responsibility.

Yes, in the Home Ministry my priority was to look after the country’s internal matters while MFA’s is external. However, foreign policy is really an extension of domestic policy and in that respect, my experience in the Home Ministry will surely be useful.My time in the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs has been very enriching although very brief. I

have learnt many things about our vibrant culture and tradition, and the enormous challenges we face to protect and promote our cultural heritage.

  1. The Ministry of foreign affairs is also known as the “Ministry of family affairs”. What is your take on this and how are you going to tackle this image?

I do not believe in everything people say and will expect such hearsay to be nothing more than rumors. I have full trust and faith that our officers will display high professionalism and ensure equity and transparency in the administration and management of this Ministry. I will count on my colleagues and the HR Committee to ensure that appointments, promotions and transfers of officials and staff are conducted in a transparent and objective manner and that meritocracy finds its place.

  1. As of now, we have two women ambassadors. Are we going to see more women Ambassadors ?

By any standard having two lady Ambassadors out of a total of seven which is almost 30 % is quite impressive. Both the Ambassadors were recommended for appointment by the present government and appointment of future Ambassadors will depend on meritocracy.

Dawa Zangmo/Thimphu

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