I would like to speak tonight about foreign affairs, and the importance to Jersey of nurturing international relationships and maintaining a good reputation abroad. I was honoured to be appointed the first Minister of External Relations a year ago; the conduct of foreign affairs is a responsibility I share with the Chief Minister in accordance with a general policy direction from the Council of Ministers. We publish our foreign policy objectives on the Internet under the title “External Relations: Common Policy”. One of the first principles in that document is to promote Jersey’s international identity and good reputation as a responsible country committed to the rule of law, international standards, and respect for internationally recognised human and labour rights. Our primary aim is to advance our interests with our closest geographical neighbours, the UK and France.

It is disappointing therefore that the States members of the Reform Party seem determined to undermine Jersey’s reputation in France. ATTAC is an organisation that misguidedly seeks to damage Jersey’s finance industry, which gives employment to more than 12,000 people. It was extraordinary that several Reform Party members gave a warm welcome to a delegation from ATTAC France a few weeks ago.

For States members to speak ill of Jersey to the French media is not sensible because it feeds uninformed prejudice against the Island in that country, and puts jobs at risk here. Criticizing government policies in Jersey is fine – but do not attack your own country abroad. That is treachery.

Advancing a truthful and positive account of Jersey is important to counter the misinformation that people often read and hear in the UK and elsewhere. It is also vital for the advancement of our economic interests, for the promotion of growth and inward investment, and for the creation of jobs. That is what my Ministry seeks to do, particularly in the UK through the London Office and in France through our office there. The new Ministry proved particularly valuable last year when punitive and potentially damaging sanctions were avoided by forceful diplomacy and hard work by officials in my ministry and the Treasury, and Jersey was removed from a French black list just in time. All is not perfect, and there is much to be done, but we should be proud of our Island, and show that pride in dealings with foreigners.