PM's Address at Arab League-Pacific Island Summit in Abu Dhabi, 25.6.10

Your Highness Sheikh Abduallah bin Zayed  i-Nayhan,
The Secretary General of the Arab League,
Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

As salam wa leikum and bula vinaka as we say in Fiji.

As expressed  by the President of Palau I wish to reiterate my country’s appreciation and gratitude for the kindness, hospitality and warmth shown by the Government of the United Arab Emirates and in particular the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

I also wish to acknowledge the warmth shown by the members of the Arab league present here today. The World renowned reputation of Arabs looking after their guests, their hospitality, is most definitely most deserved and apt.

Fiji as many of you would know has been present in the Arab region since 1978. Fijian peace keeping troops served in the South of Lebanon from 1978 to 2002. We have been serving in Sinai since 1982. We currently have more than 300 troops in that contingent. We are the only blue helmets in Iraq since 2004 with a 221 strong contingent. We also have presence in Sudan and have had presence in Kuwait and Kurdistan.

Unfortunately while we have had this presence and continue to do so in Sinai and Iraq - in fact some of my troops now speak fluent Arabic – Fiji did not develop nor pursue, for that matter, in a tangible manner, formal political, economic and cultural relations with the Arab countries.

I am pleased to inform you that recently I have taken steps to ensure that this situation stops.

Therefore, this Summit is most appropriate and timely.

My government has also recently taken steps to join the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Our joining of NAM stems from the philosophical basis that while determining our own destinies as sovereign states, we must work in collaboration with all with the aim of sustainable world peace, and dignity and respect for all.

But we cannot achieve goals if we simply fall into predetermined political spheres of influence or have predetermined alignments. We must be prepared to step out of the norm or existing relationships and decide each issue on its merit, by using inter alia the precepts of justice and equality.

This will result in the manifestation of the vision of a fairer and dignified life for all.

Fiji is committed to this vision and shall work with all including the Arab League, which shares these values also.

Your Highness, your Excellencies, the President of Palau very succinctly captured the issues that face the Small Pacific Island Developing States. We Pacific Islands have a lot of issues in common including climate change, rising sea levels and economies of scale.

As there are commonalities amongst the members of the Arab states and concomitant peculiarities or specificities between each state so do we in the Pacific.

Some of us face more immediate effects of climate change; some are more populated then others; some of us are larger than others; some are suited for the development of different sectors within our specific economies. These commonalities and specificities are important to recognize. This is the reason why we have the group of the Small Pacific Island Developing States that has been formed through our representatives in New York. That is also why we have a united voice in the UN on climate change through the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).

It is imperative to recognize the point of differential between the small Pacific island developing states and the metropolitan powers in the Pacific region.

It is also imperative that to foster genuine dialogue, co-operation and interaction between the Pacific and members of the Arab League, the Arab League or at least one of its members has a presence in the Small Pacific Island Developing States region.

Your Highness, Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen. I am happy to inform this gathering that Fiji yesterday completed the ratification process of the IRENA Statute.

We applaud Abu Dhabi’s lead pertaining to IRENA and also the other member countries of SPIDS who have taken initiatives in developing their renewal energy plans.

In Fiji while we have already embarked on a number of renewal energy projects through the Fiji Electricity Authority and private sector initiatives, we are also in the process of developing a national plan and identification of specific projects.

We will be taking a sectoral approach to the implementation of the renewable energy plan. The tourism industry which is a mainstay of economy has been targeted as the sector. A sectoral approach can be a model that can be transposed to other industries. We need to understand not just the carbon footprint but from a holistic perspective we have to assess our ecological footprint.

Therefore it is in this sense that support through IRENA must not only be based on technological support and financial assistance but it explore the opportunity to establish a Regional hub to research and develop renewable solutions for a sustainable regional initiative.

Your Excellency, I am cognizant of the time imperatives and the bi-laterals that are scheduled.

I wish to simply state that we all here have an onerous responsibility to ensure that this process of co-operation, partnership, collaboration and opportunities that has commenced through the wisdom and vision of His Highness Sheikh Abduallah bin Zayed Al Nayhan, must gain momentum and be realized in a tangible fashion for the mutual benefit of all our people.

Shukran Jazirah

Vinaka.

Comments

I'm just mad about saffron said…
Very nice site revamp, Croz. Love the orange on white. Incidentally, orange is a very lucky colour.
Sheik suck up and shake-down said…
I know the modus operandi in diplomacy is the suck-up and especially in the Arab world. But does Frank have to be so bloody subservient? Talk about forelock tugging. Why didn't he just drop all the pretence and hold out a soli plate in the hope of it raining petrodollars? The whole thing is indecent. Surely things aren't that bad in Fiji that we have to bow and scrape to other unelected types like the sheiks of the UAE? Or maybe they are, judging from this unseemly display.
Edge said…
Well said Sheik
things are not that bad in Fiji ... But a little more would come in mighty handy.

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