The 49th Pacific Islands Forum was officially opened last night in Nauru with delegates and officials recognising the efforts of outgoing Forum Chair, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.
Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (P.I.F.S.) secretary general Dame Meg Taylor said the Forum made significant progress during the tenure of Tuilaepa in areas such as the 11th European Development Fund (E.D.F.) Regional Indicative Programme and preparations towards the post-Cotonou negotiations.
Dame Meg’s deputy, Cristelle Pratt, told a pre-Forum media workshop earlier that the “evolution of the narrative” through Tuilaepa in the last 12 months inspired her.
“In fact when he spoke at Lowy Institute several days ago, he was able to use the Blue Pacific narrative in so many different ways as he wove his speech and his statement to those that were in the room.
“But he did make the point that we do need to think that we are big and we’ve been told by so many that we are small. So this idea of the Blue Pacific Continent gives us the sense that we are not insignificant in the world, that we are the largest continent on the planet. That we are the Blue Continent on the Blue Planet, and I think that in many ways he served the narrative well,” she said.
Leaders of the Small Island States (S.I.S.) and the Pacific A.C.P. states met yesterday to discuss various issues including agreeing to and have a common position on their trade negotiations with the European Union (E.U.).
President of Nauru and Chair of the Pacific ACP Group, Baron Divavesi Waqa, in his opening statement to the Pacific A.C.P. meeting also thanked Samoa’s Prime Minister for his stewardship in the last 12 months.
“I have been briefed on the good progress we have made and I look forward to steering the Pacific A.C.P. agenda over the next 12 months, particularly as we commence negotiations for a post-Cotonou Agreement.
“As we approach these negotiations, it is important to reflect on our historic relations with the European Union in advancing our interests and mutual cooperation post-2020. The Georgetown Agreement, dating back to before 1975, which inevitably established the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group, and the intentions for a ‘desire to consolidate and strengthen the existing solidarity’, remains as relevant today considering the geo-political circumstances, the enlargement of the EU block to 28 States, and challenges affecting our region,” he said.
Today kicks off with the Forum Dialogue Partners session with Forum Leaders, Associate Member and Observer Dialogue session with Forum Leaders as well as civil society and private sector dialogues with Forum Leaders. The Leaders’ Retreat is scheduled to be held tomorrow with the regional conference closing on Thursday.