Wednesday, June 24, 2015

1) MSG summit opens in Solomon Islands

1) MSG summit opens in Solomon Islands
2) Sogavare: Membership bids to test MSG
3) West Papua faces crucial Melanesian diplomatic test
4) Economic opportunities  in Melanesian states
5) The Indonesian government cannot stand in the way of West Papuan people
6) Elect West Papua leaders for MSG: PM O’Neill
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1) MSG summit opens in Solomon Islands
By Nic Maclellan in Honiara Wed 24 Jun 2015


Panpipers perform at the opening of the MSG Leaders Summit in Honiara today.-- Photo Nic Maclellan
In a vibrant cultural display, Solomon Islands dancers, pan pipers and customary presentations welcomed Melanesian Spearhead Group delegations at the official opening of the 20th MSG summit in Honiara.
Summit host Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was joined in the opening ceremony by Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, FLNKS leader Victor Tutugoro, PNG Minister for Public Enterprise Ben Micah and Vanuatu’s Johnson Naviti, Director General of the Office of the Vanuatu Prime Minister.
The ceremony included a formal presentation to each of the delegations from the host island of Guadalcanal, known as chupu, including pigs, root crops and betel nut. The cultural welcome was acknowledged by a Fijian spokesman on behalf of the leaders and the FLNKS delegation made a customary presentation, acknowledging the welcome from the land owners and the people of the Solomon Islands.
The theme of this week’s summit is: “Let us build a strong Melanesia in the Pacific where peace, progress and prosperity is ensured and sustained for all”.
In his opening address, Prime Minister Sogavare highlighted the challenge of meeting the MSG’s ambitious strategy “MSG 2038 Prosperity for all.” Before his latest term of office, Sogavare served as a member of the MSG Eminent Persons Group (EPG) that reviewed the first 25 years of the sub-regional organisation, and developed the new 2038 plan as a vision for the next 25.
Already committed to an ambitious – and expensive – range of activities, the MSG is considering its relationship with the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP). With MSG member Papua New Guinea also preparing to host the next meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum in September, Sogavare said: “It is important that in considering any new initiatives and programs under the MSG, we must not duplicate the role of other regional organisations in the Pacific.”
Sogavare also spoke out strongly on one of the key decisions facing this week’s summit: the application for MSG membership by the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) and a proposal to upgrade Indonesia’s current observer status to associate membership. 
“All eyes will be on Honiara and the world is watching us and eagerly anticipating what the outcome will be when we deliberate on the application for new membership to the MSG,” Sogavare said.
In the stand of dignitaries, the opening ceremony was witnessed by a large Indonesian delegation, led by Vice Foreign Minister Dr. A.M. Fachir, and by an equally large delegation of leaders and members of the ULMWP.
Sogavare stressed that the “deliberations on these applications will test our commitment to a caring, progressive, peaceful and inclusive MSG.”
In a departure from his prepared text, he added: “They are not ordinary applications - they are applications that challenge many of the fundamental values that we in Melanesia profess to uphold as members of the United Nations and countries founded on the principles of Christianity.”
Sogavare said: “Let us not forget the dreams and wishes of our people to be part of our Melanesian family; the desire of our people for an inclusive MSG - an MSG that is able to stand for what is right in the world where such values are now struggling to survive.”
At the end of the ceremony, the Solomon Islands Prime Minister greeted members of the West Papua delegation, including ULM Secretary General Octo Mote and spokesperson Benny Wenda.
Sogavare’s strong public rhetoric reflects the widespread public support for the West Papuan movement shown by church, community and customary leaders in Solomon Islands. At Thursday’s leaders’ retreat, however, the MSG host must forge a consensus with his fellow leaders, who have publicly expressed divergent views on the applications. 
As Sogavare noted, the decisions on Indonesia and West Papua will be “a test of our genuineness to solve a problem between two next door neighbours in the interest of regional peace and stability.”
With PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill still to arrive in Honiara, the MSG leaders will hold a retreat on Thursday and a plenary on Friday receiving reports from senior officials and ministers, and forging a consensus on more challenging issues. 
As one delegate noted wryly to Islands Business: “We finished the Foreign Ministers’ meeting early. We’ve done all the easy ones, but have handballed a few tricky ones to the boss!”
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2) Sogavare: Membership bids to test MSG
Updated about 1 hour ago
The Solomon Islands Prime Minister says membership applications being considered at this week's Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders summit will be a test.
Speaking as host and new Chair of the MSG at the summit's opening ceremony, Manasseh Sogavare said the world is watching to see whether the MSG will accept West Papuan into the fold.
Manasseh Sogavare says the applications before the leaders will test MSG on its position on Human Rights and the rule of law.
He was referring to the application by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua to be a full member of MSG, and an application by Indonesia to have its current observer status elevated to associate member.
MSG leaders have hinted that the West Papuan bid is likely to fall short, but Mr Sogavare has voiced support for West Papuans to have observer status. Members of the West Papua delegation at the summit shed tears as they gathered around the Solomon Islands Prime Minister after his speech.
They say the Sogavare speech gives them hope.

PNG PM reiterates support for greater MSG representation.

Papua New Guinea's prime minister has reiterated his support for representation of all Indonesian provinces with Melanesian ethnicity at the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
Peter O'Neill is due in Honiara tomorrow to join fellow leaders of MSG member states at their leaders summit.
Leaders are expected to this week make a decision on an application for full membership in the MSG by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.
Mr O'Neill has indicated his preference for greater MSG representation for all Indonesia's Melanesians, of whom there are estimated to be eleven million across five provinces.
The ULMWP however is representing indigenous Melanesians of West Papua and Papua provinces, who largely regard themselves as distinct from other Indonesian peoples.
Indonesia currently has observer status at the MSG but at this week's summit, leaders are understood to be considering elevating it to associate member status.
Mr O'Neill told PNG media that he welcomes West Papuan participation at the MSG but that it has to be done properly, in an orderly manner.
He says those representing West Papua must be elected, mandated leaders, rather than random groups or activists.
The prime minister has advocated for the elected governors of the five Indonesian provinces to represent their people at the MSG.
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3) West Papua faces crucial Melanesian diplomatic test
A make-or-break bid by West Papua's independence movement for diplomatic recognition by leaders of Australia's closest neighbours will dominate a meeting in Honiara this week.

The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) comprising Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia’s Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS) will also consider a full membership application by Indonesia.
Outright rejection of the West Papuans by MSG could be a crippling political setback for the freedom movement.
West Papuan groups have been seeking independence from Indonesia since its controversial takeover of the former Dutch colony on the western half of New Guinea in the 1960s.
Hundreds of thousands are estimated to have died in the brutal conflict, with Indonesia accused of human rights abuses.
“It will test our commitment to the basic principles of human rights and the rule-of-law which are embedded in the United Nations charter, which the MSG member countries subscribe to,” Solomon Islands prime minister and MSG host Manasseh Sogavare told leaders at the opening ceremony.
“It is a test of our genuineness to solve a problem between two next-door neighbours, in the interest of regional peace and stability, ultimately it is a test to our claim to civilisation and good corporate citizens of planet Earth.”
For the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), an umbrella group seeking independence from Indonesia, MSG membership would be the climax of years of lobbying efforts to secure a seat on an international forum to push their cause.
“The last 50 years the world ignored our cry for help and justice and peace,” West Papuan leader Benny Wenda told SBS.
“Without West Papua, Melanesia is not free, that’s why we’re confident that when West Papua becomes part of the MSG, it will bring peace itself.”
“We are demanding full membership, but if we are given observer status, we will accept that as a starting point.”
Benny Wenda, Jacob Rumbiak, other exiled West Papuan leaders and supporters have held colourful marches in Honiara over the past week to keep the pressure up.
Fiji and PNG are not expected to support membership for West Papuans, while Vanuatu and New Caledonia’s FLNKS have been long-time backers.
Vanuatu’s position is now uncertain and its leaders will not be at MSG because of a possible no-confidence motion in parliament this week.
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4) Economic opportunities  in Melanesian states
Sandy Darmosumarto, Jakarta | Opinion | Wed, June 24 2015, 6:19 AM - 
Among the highly contested issues in this year’s Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Leaders’ Summit — to take place in Honiara on June 24 to 26— is the possible approval for membership of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) in the MSG.

Complementary to this membership admission is the idea that Papuan separatist movement groups would gain more leverage for their cause. On the opposite pole, many view Indonesia’s application to become an associate member of the MSG as merely a counter effort.

In reality, both applications for membership stand a significant chance of being rejected through split approval by the five MSG members.

With respect to ULMWP’s application, the majority of MSG members do not consider it an organization that meets the prerequisite of being an inclusive umbrella group that represents the solid and collective voice of Melanesians in Indonesia — not only in Indonesia’s Papua and West Papua provinces but also those in Maluku, North Maluku and East Nusa Tenggara.

While Vanuatu and the Front de LibĂ©ration Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS)’s constant support for self-determination of Melanesian groups will stand in the way of a consensus on Indonesia’s membership application.

Regardless of the outcome to these applications, recognizing the separatist movement in Indonesia’s Papuan provinces is not MSG’s main agenda — more so when a strong majority of MSG members have clearly agreed to honor Indonesia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in a joint statement from 2014.

That Indonesia has not been conducting intensive negotiations with Vanuatu and the FLNKS demonstrates the secondary nature of these membership issues to Jakarta.

Boosting economic development is MSG’s top priority, and Indonesia’s endeavor into Pacific Islands Countries (PICs) ought to aim at becoming an active part of this development effort. The six out of 15 MSG meetings dedicated to economic issues attest to this priority.

With PICs, especially Fiji, increasingly finding lobbying activities related to preferential access to Australia’s and New Zealand’s markets unsustainable, PICs have, in the past few years, been escalating significant trade activities with China, and — to a lesser extent — with Malaysia and Singapore. In return, China has been escalating direct investment into PICs.

For Indonesia, this leapfrog by China is a loss since it should have been Indonesia who escalated economic engagement with PICs and had been actively involved in economic transformation in PICs.

Indonesia, however, could benefit from China’s economic rise in PICs. Indonesian and Chinese maritime companies could share the burden of putting in place the necessary maritime infrastructure that would facilitate increased trade activities.

Projected Chinese involvement in developing maritime infrastructure within the Indonesian archipelago serves as a starting point for this joint endeavor. Amid plans to link the western and eastern Indonesian islands with sea routes and seaports, there exists an opportunity to link these maritime logistic facilities eastward into Papua New Guinea (PNG), Fiji and Solomon Islands.

These three MSG members are PICs that possess the largest population and sustained purchasing power to consume Indonesia’s export products and commodities. Thus, engaging in higher degrees of trade activities with them could potentially result in financial benefits.

Additionally, since 2011, export penetration from Indonesia to all PICs is significantly higher in PNG, Fiji and Solomon Islands — reaching a total value of US$201.7 million in 2014 alone. Apart from attempting to reduce the cost of logistics, Indonesia should also assist the three PICs in increasing the competitiveness of their economy.

Indonesia could replicate past experiences in developing sustainable small- to medium-sized enterprises to add more value to products derived from primary commodities, stimulate innovation of creative and tradable products and support PICs’ efforts to diversify away from unprocessed primary goods, which make up the majority of PICs exports.

Indonesian private sectors — especially those in plantations, mills, construction and food processing industries — should seek ways to expand their operations in the three PICs. Likewise, they should also invest in developing PICs’ tourist industries.

One common obstacle to increasing inbound tourists into PICs is the lack of a convenient network of scheduled flights. Hence, the Indonesian air transportation industry should escalate engagement with air carriers and governments from the three PICs to collaborate in enhancing air transportation linkages between Indonesia and the three PICs.

Additionally, Indonesian banks should start to look into opportunities in financing business development — including the maritime sector — in the three PICs. With increased connectivity as well as improvements in the production process, exports from PICs would eventually become competitive and seek additional foreign markets

Given the proximity and, by then, ease of access to Indonesia’s large market, including the 11 million Indonesians of Melanesian ethnicity (the largest in any one country in the world), Indonesia could serve as the engine for intra-Melanesian trade.

Additionally, over 15 soon-to-be-constructed passenger seaports within Indonesia’s Melanesian provinces could be reconfigured to also serve as short sea shipping points to cater to low-volume trade between Indonesia and the three PICs.

With improved maritime facilities, Indonesian ports could take over the role of transshipment destinations played by Australian and New Zealand ports for PICs exports going out to Southeast Asia and East Asia — and vice versa. 
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The writer is head of the Sub-Division for Political, Social and Security Affairs connected with the Regional Organization, the Bureau of the Foreign Minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia. The views expressed are his own.
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5) The Indonesian government cannot stand in the way of West Papuan people
 Wednesday 24 June 2015 12.05 AEST

For more than half a century, my people have suffered under a repressive military occupation that is estimated to have claimed 500,000 West Papuan lives. This is not something Indonesians read about every day, but it is a significant stain on Indonesia’s international reputation and its standing in the region.
Like many of you, I held great hopes for the new presidency of Joko Widodo. During his election campaign, he promised a fresh start for the relationship between Jakarta and the people of West Papua, including through the offer of a new political dialogue and the withdrawal of Indonesia’s military presence. Unfortunately, President Widodo has failed on both counts.

At this week’s meeting of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), the region’s leaders will gather in Honiara to decide whether to welcome the West Papuan people as the newest member of their preeminent political forum. 
West Papua’s membership of the MSG is long overdue. For more than 38 years, we were denied the right to refer to ourselves as Melanesians, but my people have stood steadfast in the face of a campaign to stamp out our culture, our human rights, and our dignity as a people. A majority of West Papua’s population remains ethnically Melanesian, and throughout the Pacific the sentiment is strong that we must have a seat at the MSG table. Unfortunately, the Indonesian government has sought to stand in our way. 
In recent months, Widodo and foreign minister Retno Marsudi have toured the region with empty promises of aid and diplomatic cooperation, making the case to Melanesian governments that West Papuan membership of the MSG would somehow be a threat to Indonesia’s interests and the region more broadly. They have even gone so far as to suggest that it would be more appropriate for Indonesia’s provincial governors to be granted associate membership of the MSG, while conveniently overlooking the fact that West Papua’s Melanesian population needs to be represented by its own political leadership.
The only legitimate representatives of West Papua are the West Papuans themselves. For too long, provincial “governors” imposed by Jakarta have engaged in iron fist administration, and not in the interests of the people they purport to represent. Many have been personally implicated in serious human rights abuses, which MSG leaders have previously condemned. And with Indonesian’s provincial governors now set to be directly appointed by Jakarta this will only get worse. 
Ultimately, the Indonesian government has no right or basis – legal or political – for standing in the way of a decision by Melanesian leaders for Melanesia, and only Melanesia. West Papua’s application for MSG membership is grounded firmly in the MSG’s own founding principles, including respect for and promotion of Melanesian cultures, traditions and values, the inalienable human rights of the indigenous peoples of Melanesia, and most of all, the spirit of Melanesian solidarity. As an observer of the MSG, Indonesia must adhere to these principles.
West Papua’s request for membership has been considered by MSG leaders at their meetings in 2013 and 2014. On both occasions, MSG leaders raised serious concerns about human rights violations and atrocities committed against the people of West Papua, and in June 2014, they invited West Papua to form an inclusive and united umbrella group in anticipation of a fresh application for MSG membership this year. The political leadership in West Papua responded quickly. In December 2014, we formed the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), and it is this new political platform that is seeking MSG membership for the people of West Papua.
While we have worked hard to respond to MSG leaders, we remain frustrated and dismayed that there has been no parallel progress on Indonesian undertakings to allow greater autonomy in Papua and to draw down its military presence in West Papua. 
As recently as March this year, Papua New Guinea prime minister Peter O’Neill confirmed that former Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, had personally promised him that Indonesian forces would be withdrawn from West Papua. But on the contrary, Widodo last month took an additional 6,000 armed personnel with him during a visit to West Papua. Even the president’s own announcement that West Papua would now be opened up to visits from foreign journalists is seemingly being reversed by Indonesian ministers who seem hell-bent on preventing international eyes from seeing what is really happening on the ground to my people. In the minds of many Melanesian leaders, Indonesia simply can no longer be trusted. 
This week’s meeting in Honiara is a significant test for Melanesia’s leaders in the face of heavy pressure from a nervous Jakarta. But Indonesia has nothing to fear, other than the damage a continuation of the status quo will mean for its standing throughout the region. Just as the Kanak people of New Caledonia were granted full MSG membership before us, the West Papuan people need and deserve to be part of the Melanesian family, and the political grouping that handles its affairs. A positive decision in Honiara is in West Papua’s interest. It is in Indonesia’s interest too. 
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6) Elect West Papua leaders for MSG: PM O’Neill
By Online Editor
5:35 pm GMT+12, 23/06/2015, Papua New Guinea

West Papua will have a seat in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) but must have mandated leaders representing them.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said this before leaving for the Solomon Islands to attend the MSG Leaders Summit to discuss among other issues the representation of West Papua on MSG.

“We welcome the participation of West Papuans to MSG. That’s what we are trying to facilitate. What we are trying to do is, find what is the right organisation that is going to represent the West Papuans at MSG?

“They must be elected, they must be mandated, they must be properly appointed to participate. We cannot have anybody coming off the street to say I represent West Papuans.

“We have to do it properly, in an orderly manner that we want to allow our brothers and sisters from West Papua to participate.

“Nobody is trying to deny them a seat on the table. We all want them to sit there, just like we have done with the Kanaks in New Caledonia. We must have a structure that is going to do so,” O’Neill said.

“My discussion with the president of Indonesia recently was very simple, there are five Papuan elected Governors in five provinces representing 11 million people.

“These are elected leaders, they are West Papuans, and not Javanese or other race therefore, they can represent West Papua on MSG.

“We will discuss it with other leaders, we are open-minded to this arrangement and we will make decisions that is consistent with what we have said before. The Kanaks is a very good example, we can use that as a basis of which we would allow our West Papuan Leaders to participate,” O’Neill said.

Meanwhile, PNG’s foreign Affairs and Immigration acting Secretary William Dihm attended the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) foreign ministers’ meeting at the Heritage Hotel in Honiara, the Solomon Islands.

He is standing in for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato at the two-day meeting, which started Monday.

The meeting has convened prior to the leaders’ summit to set the agenda for endorsement and deliberation by MSG leaders.

The meeting, under the theme; “Let us build a strong Melanesia in the Pacific where peace, progress and prosperity is ensured and sustained for all,” is attended by foreign affairs ministers from other MSG member countries.

Issues discussed included the report of the MSG trade ministers following their meeting in Port Moresby in November last year, the finance ministers and governors of central banks report, the criteria determining associate membership, the report of the senior officials’ meeting, cyclone recovery support to Vanuatu, and the MSG Secretariat report, among others.

In his opening remarks, Dihm acknowledged the significance of the MSG and the need to collectively address the political, economic, social environment and climate change issues in the region.

“We need to ensure connectivity in the MSG region through the promotion of business, trade and investment, education, employment and cultural exchanges.

“This could be carried forward and progressed through the recently endorsed MSG 2038 Prosperity For All Plan,” Dihm said.

Officials from the Prime Minister, Foreign Affairs and Immigration, and Environment and Conservation departments, Police, and Border Development Authority are supporting Dihm at the meeting.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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