Security of Blue Pacific tops agenda as PM Tuilaepa opens Foreign Ministers Meeting

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa ,

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The 2018 Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting at Taumeasina Island Resort.

The 2018 Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting at Taumeasina Island Resort. (Photo: Government of Samoa)

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has called for a fruitful discussion about the greater security of the Blue Pacific region. 

He made the call when he opened the 2018 Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting at Taumeasina Island Resort this morning.

“Our agenda today provides us with an opportunity to discuss how we can work together to promote the security and development of our Blue Pacific,” Tuilaepa said.

“We also have the opportunity to discuss how we can promote greater security of our Blue Pacific through seeking certainty over our maritime boundaries.  

“And we will discuss a proposal offered by the Forum Fisheries Minister for an aerial surveillance programme.”

Tuilaepa, who is also Samoa’s Foreign Affairs Minister, said the theme for this year’s Forum Leaders meeting to be held in Nauru, ‘Building a Strong Pacific – Our Islands, Our People, Our Will’ calls on Pacific leaders to strengthen their collective will in order overcome persistent development challenges.

“The theme is indeed a timely one. As the global geopolitical landscape shifts, the Pacific is again becoming the focus of increasing strategic competition and cooperation, presenting us with both opportunity and challenge,” Tuilaepa said. 

“As Foreign Ministers we are charged with navigating this intricate environment to promote the interests of our countries and our region. 

“And while our world is inherently unpredictable and complex, I believe that the Blue Pacific narrative provides us with a sense of focus and coherence, so that we can steadily and strategically progress our regional priorities and achieve our goals under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism.”

Tuilaepa added he is pleased to see Forum Leaders are able to advance the discussion of issues such as strengthening the Forum’s international engagement and advocacy.  

“As we well know, as Ministers and Leaders we may agree within the context of the Forum to new positions and initiatives to address our various challenges and realise our ambitions.  

“But we also need to gain the support of other countries, and other organisations for support, action and resources.” 

The Taumesaina meeting will consider “proposals for enhancing the effectiveness of our international engagement and advocacy through a dedicated strategy for engagement and advocacy, and clearly identified priorities. 

“I am particularly interested to see how we can better maximise our Pacific voice as we head into COP 24 in Poland later this year.

“Last year, Foreign Ministers also considered that the time was right to build on the Forum’ existing security declarations to take account of current and emerging security issues. 

“Leaders accepted this recommendation and the Secretariat subsequently embarked on an extensive process of consultations. Today we will have the opportunity to reflect on the outcomes of those consultations, and consider a proposal for a ‘Biketawa Plus’ Declaration.”

The meeting will also consider the application by Wallis and Futuna for Associate Membership of the Forum. 

Among the leaders present in Samoa today are Baron Divavesi Waqa, President of Nauru, Akilisi Pohiva, Prime Minister of Tonga, Henry Puna, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Vaovasa Winston Peters, deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand and Julie Bishop, Australia’s Foreign Ministers.

The one-day meeting ends tonight with a press conference scheduled to announce the final outcomes.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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