Forum Chair Natapei's Inaugural Address

3 -6 AUGUST 2010 PRESS RELEASE (69/10) 3rd August 2010

The Chair of the 41st Pacific Islands Forum and Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu, Hon. Edward Natapei, MP, has called for the removal of barriers and elements in the region that deny democracy and good governance.

 In his inaugural speech as the new Chair of the Forum, Prime Minister Natapei said: "The time has come for all of us to move forward to the next level of our regional cooperation where Pacific countries and territories can embrace regional integration and breakdown the barriers separating us.
"We need to be talking much more about how we can bring hope to the Pacific citizens who are struggling to find employment; who are without political freedom; who want to ensure that their children receive decent education; and who are prepared to confront the scourge of HIV/AIDS and other health epidemics."
The new Forum Chair added: "We need to break down those barriers and remove elements of our societies that deny democracy and good governance in order that we as a regiorn can celebrate our common vision of a Pacific region that is respected for the quality of its governance, its full observance of democratic values, and its defense of human rights taking into account the diversity of our respective cultures and traditions. The Biketawa Declaration, now in its 10th year, provides the guiding principles for good governance, democracy and respect for the rule of law and human rights."
"However, in respect of these values, it is of concern that a founding member of the Forum, the Republic of Fiji Islands, remains suspended because of its breaches of these fundamental principles.
"As Leaders of Pacific Islands nations, we have the duty and responsibility to remain engaged with Fiji so that democratic principles and practices could be restored in Fiji as soon as possible."

Under the Biketawa Declaration, the Forum has successfully restored law and order and rebuilt Solomon Islands through the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) and helped Nauru to overcome its financial difficulties under the Pacific Regional Assistance to Nauru (PRAN) demonstrating that regionalism can work.
"We must be proud of those positive regional endeavours. We must remain united in pursuing our common quest for a Pacific region that is respected for the quality of its governance and capacity to deliver services to its people," Prime Minister Natapei said.
The new Forum Chair added: "We also need to remove barriers to our economies, to better promote the free flow of goods, services and investment throughout the region. Therefore, the development of regional trade arrangements such as PICTA and PACER-Plus are vehicles to achieve this."
Prime Minister Natapei said he wants a new regionalism that is characterized by "our citizens enjoying high standards of health and education, long lives and many opportunities; where Pacific economic performance is constantly improving, driven by environmentally sustainable service industries."
"It would be regionalism whereby coups, civil wars and the dangers of so-called 'failed states' are relegated to the past; whereby the Pacific is integrated in the wider region, and whereby we can have an influential voice in world affairs. This is within our reach and with the spirit of partnership we can achieve this."
School children waving the flags of all the Forum member countries welcomed the Leaders to the official ceremony and traditional dancers representing all the provinces in Vanuatu entertained them. Vanuatu's well-known female singer, Vannessa Quai also entertained the Forum Leaders.
The Forum Leaders held a plenary session after the official opening ceremony. They will go for their Retreat tomorrow at the Havannah Resort outside of the capital Port Vila. The Leaders will issue a communiqué containing their decisions at the end of the Retreat.


Is Fiji becoming irrelevant? said…
Secretary General Slade in his opening address did not mention Fiji? Not once? Foreign Minister Smith gave Fiji an oblique slap when he congratulated The Solomons on their elections and commented that not all Pacific people had that opportunity! Natapei also reinforced the need for Fiji to return to democracy and the rule of law - and that Fiji needed assistance to escape from its current chaos. All in all not much of a day for the junta - including their two insignificant reps being told to leave. Is Fiji becoming increasingly irrelevant?
Sadness of Fiji said…
Yes Croz
Mr Natapei reminds us of the sadness that Fiji remains suspended from the Forum (as it is from the Commonwealth)because of the junta's disregard for and breaches of the fundamental Forum "principles for good governance, democracy and respect for the rule of law and human rights."
We all hope, As does Mr Natapei, that Fiji will soon be again a free nation again after 4 years of military repression.
Eddie the Aussie puppet said…
Doubtless a speech written for this clown by his Australian masters. Sounds like a DFAT handout, that's for sure. Hey Eddie baby. You've got your Aussie aid money and stabbed Fiji in the back. Spare us the high minded lecture.
TheMax said…
The question to Natapei is why cancel the MSG meeting when it was an avenue to engage with Fiji? For all this man's talk about engaging with Fiji, it comes to zero when he had just recently cancelled the MSG meeting although his chairmanship lapsed in May this year.

A reader above asked is Fiji becoming irrelevant? Well, why don't he ask the other question whether the Forum is still relevant to Fiji? Fiji is surviving and moving forward and although we may be going through these hard times, at least we are standing on our two feet working towards self-reliant in all aspects.
Radiolucas said…
"Fiji is surviving"?

"moving forward"?

How, where? Are you living elsewhere? Fiji has always been self-reliant to some extent but we are not an economy that can survive without foreign investment and trade - to suggest otherwise is, well, a bit naive.

NZ and Australia do not need to "pay" for their interests in the pacific - they do that through diplomacy, which is something that the military are terrible at. All they know is: gun = shot it / don't shoot it.

Fiji is becoming irrelevant and over time, it will get worse, not better. Trade does not come from failed IMF loans or new relationships with countries half way around the other side of the world. Trade comes from our neighbours and our great leader's inability to face reality and help the nation is our problem to deal with.

NZ and Australia still give Fiji aid. They just don't give as much as they used to. Yet Fiji behaves as if it is some sort of maiden, a damsel wanting to be wooed and told what a great beauty she is - whereas in reality Fiji is more like a crazed beggar with a gun.

We have to work together to find an answer - not blame NZ and Australia for their diplomatic stance, which quite frankly, they take quite rightly.

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