Statement Delivered by Hon Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas
Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu.
THE MSG LEADERS’ SUMMIT PLENARY
14TH JULY 2016, HONIARA, SOLOMON ISLANDS
Mr. Chairman-Hon Manasseh D Sogovare, Prime Minister of Solomon Islands.
Hon JosaiahVoreqe Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji
Hon Rimbink Pato, Foreign Minister Deputizing on behalf of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea,
Mr. Victor Tutugoro, Spokesperson of the FLNKS
Hon Ministers of the MSG Countries,
Director General of the MSG Secretariat
Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is my distinct honor and privilege to be addressing this MSG Special Leaders’ Summit, and on my first outing on MSG duty as Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu after our successful elections in January this year. And I deliver this statement on behalf of my Government and the people of the Republic of Vanuatu.
Firstly, I wish to register my Government’s profound gratitude to you Mr. Chairman, as the Prime Minister of the Host of Special Leader’s Summit, for the excellent arrangements put in place by your Government; and the hospitality extended to me and my delegation by your people since our arrival here in Honiara. The enabling environment of this growing city has allowed us to deliberate well on the issues during our discussions today.
Chairman, let me also take this opportunity to acknowledge with immense gratitude the important role of the MSG Election Observer mission to Vanuatu in January this year led by Sir Francis Billy Hilly, former Prime Minister of Solomon Islands and also for the support of the membership.
Mr. Chairman your task as the Chairman of the MSG comes at a very critical time of the history of this organization. After over twenty six (26) years of existence, and learning from our past challenges, we have collectively decided to better organize and consolidate our efforts in carving a new path for a more prosperous and inclusive MSG. This is reflected in the 2038 Prosperity for all plan which our countries agreed to last year in this place. As we reflect on our path, my Government is also of the view that reforms need to be done within the organization and such reforms will mean that we will have to review the entire structure including the costs structure of the organization to ensure it is within our means in terms of affordability to allow for sustainability.
Mr. Chairman, all Melanesians around the world have a high expectation of this august Melanesian Group, the MSG. Many of our citizens want a peaceful, stable democratic Government in our countries which will deliver to them better socio-economic opportunities. And we have a moral duty to ensure that our decisions during our meetings clearly reflect these aspirations.
The issue of membership of MSG, Mr. Chairman, in particular the discussions of the membership of Melanesians of West Papua through the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) as a full Member into the Melanesian family is a long time cry by Melanesians around the world including my country.
The basis of admitting ULMWP or I should say Melanesians into the MSG should be the same basis for admitting the Kanaky through the FLNKS. Vanuatu has always believed that other Melanesians are ready to be admitted into the MSG family. Vanuatu is adamant that being Melanesians they should not be subject to any form of criteria. We want meaningful dialogue and we can only do this when we are together. Vanuatu therefore gravely regrets the deferral of the admission of ULMWP on the matter of criteria, a clear sign that officials and the secretariat fell short in carrying out their duties consistent with the fundamental founding principles of this eminent organization for Melanesians.
We as Melanesians through the MSG are the Spearhead. We will spearhead the political objective of this organization and it is to protect the rights of the weak and the trodden. We must continue to spearhead this objective without fear or coercion. The raison d’etre of the Melanesian Spearhead Group is to amplify and animate the political course of all Melanesians, whether in the Kanaky Land, East Timor, Vanuatu, West Papua or in any land where indigenous Melanesians as a people live and call themselves to be an entity seeking self-determination. These
are the originals our founding fathers agreed to. And these political aspirations clearly reflected in the MSG Agreement/Constitution. The aspirations enshrined therein are the noble aspirations of the people. We Governments must not neglect these aspirations.
The issue of membership presents us a good opportunity to discuss common interests and aspirations as Melanesians. But it is important that we must do this with respect rather than on a confrontational manner. The inclusion of the ULMWP as an observer last year during the Summit here in Honiara and the Melanesian Indonesians from the 5 provinces will be important in bringing all Melanesians to this Organization where we as Melanesians could sit together and discuss our common future and elevate our identity as Melanesians. It is clear Mr. Chairman that we had not really achieved this objective or should I say, we have not seen this happen as agreed to by the leaders. Instead our organization was faced with certain resistance. In order to allow for dialogue we have to be open and sincere and be committed to the spirit of dialogue. This is an important spirit in the Melanesian cultures and also it is an important principle in solving major international disputes.
Mr Chairman, I therefore repeat my plea to you to convene a meeting for leaders before the end of September to continue our dialogue on this matter to find an amicable solution. I confirm my governments offer to host you Mr Chairman and colleague Leaders of the MSG. we look forward to receiving you.
Finally, I wish to also acknowledge the staff of the MSG Secretariat for the hard work and all the efforts they have done to assist us during this Summit. The Vanuatu Government remains committed as host of the MSG Headquarters to continue supporting the Secretariat in its work to ensure that our decisions are implemented.
I wish to finally also pay tribute to all Officials of the Government of Solomon Islands for ably organizing this MSG Special Leaders’ Summit here in Honiara. We have truly enjoyed our time here and we look forward to working closely with you, Mr. Chairman during your tenure of Chairmanship of this organization. Long live the MSG.
Thank you tumas, Merci beaucoup, Tank yu tru, Oleti.