The leadership of Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has been hailed as leaders get down to serious business in the 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting being held in Apia.
Tuilaepa was praised by the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (P.I.F.S.), Dame Meg Taylor, during the opening of the Forum at Robert Louis Stevenson Museum on Tuesday.
Tuilaepa has taken over from the outgoing Chair, President Christian of the Federated States of Micronesia.
This is the fourth time Samoa has chaired the Leaders Meeting and Tuilaepa’s second has Chair.
“You clearly have a long and special relationship with the Forum, and we can all benefit from your leadership, insight and wisdom in the year ahead,” Dame Meg said.
“Honourable Prime Minister, I am very inspired by your choice of theme for this year’s Forum. I believe that the Blue Pacific has great potential to strengthen our sense of a common identity.”
“We are all connected by the Pacific Ocean, whether we live just metres from its shores or faraway in the interior mountains and highlands of our diverse islands.”
“I see the Blue Pacific providing us with a sense of identity that is fundamentally empowering; a common ocean identity that will enable us to think more innovatively about the way we work together, and with the wider world as we advance the political ambition of the Framework for Pacific Regionalism.”
According to Dame Meg, the Framework for Pacific Regionalism is a critical tool for the Pacific.
“This was a step you took to raise the ambition for collective political action in the Pacific. A step taken because of a common concern that regionalism had lost its way; that bureaucratic process and technical issues were dominating the regional agenda, and impeding Leaders’ ability to set and drive the Pacific’s political and developmental priorities,” Dame Meg said.
“Over the past three years, we have all worked hard to bring the Framework for Pacific Regionalism to life. We see the region’s policy agenda being developed through inclusive and lively debate – in my view this is a real, significant and positive development for our region.”
“We are also seeing a regional policy agenda taking shape that is focused and political. In this regard, I would like to recognize the contributions made by this year’s meetings of Forum Economic Ministers and Forum Foreign Affairs Ministers. Ministers have clearly embraced the opportunity to bring their particular policy expertise to Forum priorities.”
For example, the agreement by Forum Foreign Ministers on the need for a collective Forum foreign policy is a significant initiative that has emerged from this new and important addition to the Forum’s policy-making architecture.
“And while we should celebrate achievements so far, I want also to acknowledge that there is much more that can and needs to be done to give full effect to the vision, values and objectives of the Framework.”
“The Framework is grounded in the understanding that our region’s political and developmental priorities are set by you, the Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum. Together you represent the apex of decision-making for regional action. However, more needs to be done to ensure that your decisions are effectively implemented through the regional system that you own and oversee.”
The meeting ends tomorrow with the Leaders Retreat at the Taumeasina Island Resort.