The Chairman, Hon. Manasseh Sogavare, Prime Minister of the Government of the Solomon Islands,
Hon. Peter O’Neill, the Prime Minister of the Government of Papua New Guinea, Hon. Sato Kilman, the Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Vanuatu, Victor Tutugoro, the chairman and spokesperson of the FLNKS, Foreign Ministers, Excellencies, director general and Members of the MSG secretariat, senior officials, ladies and gentlemen,
Bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all.
– At the outset, I want to congratulate the Government of the Solomon Islands for assuming the Chairmanship of the MSG and your role in Chairing our Leader’s Summit. You have already demonstrated – in recent days – a strong sense of judgement and purpose.
And I am confident that under your leadership over the next two years, we will be able to effectively achieve our collective goals for the benefit of all our peoples.
I assure you of my own Government’s full co-operation and support.
– I also express my sincere gratitude to the Government and the people of the Solomon Islands for the wonderful way in which they have hosted our gathering and for the many courtesies accorded to my delegation.
– I also thank the outgoing chairman Victor Tutugoro and FLNKS for their leadership over the past two years.
The progress of the people of New Caledonia under the Noumea Accords forms part of our final communiqué. And Fiji commends you for the inclusive and collaborative way in which the FLNKS has worked to produce an outcome in 2018 that benefits every citizen.
– Mr chairman, my fellow leaders, our final communiqué is a testament to the way in which we have all worked in a positive manner this week to advance the cause of our organisation and the position of all Melanesians.
We have faced some difficult challenges in reaching a consensus on some of these issues.
But I want to commend you all on behalf of the Fijian people for approaching these challenges in an atmosphere of co-operation and goodwill. Some difficult choices have had to be made. Some fine balances have had to be reached.
But we conclude this gathering having confronted those challenges head on.
And we have made decisions that are ultimately in the best interests of the Melanesian people as a whole.
Choices that we genuinely believe are most likely to produce positive outcomes for the greatest number of our people and for the common good.
– The most testing choices we faced this week related to the issue of West Papua.
But we needed to be mindful of one thing and one thing alone.
Which course of action is most likely to achieve a positive outcome for the people of West Papua as a whole.
To improve their lives. To give them a sense of purpose and fulfillment. And in the case of the MSG, to bring them closer into the Melanesian family.
– As our final communiqué details, we have elevated the sovereign power in West Papua – Indonesia – to Associate Member of the MSG.
And we have also opened the door for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua to join us as an observer.
In doing so, Fiji believes we are acting in the best interests of the people in West Papua, as well as maintaining the integrity of the principles on which the MSG was founded and that we must always uphold.
– For our part, Fiji has been guided by a number of overriding principles in approaching the West Papua issue.
The first and foremost of these is that Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua cannot be questioned.
The province is an integral part of Indonesia.
So that when we deal with West Papua and its people, the MSG has no choice but to deal with Indonesia and in a positive and constructive manner.
– Furthermore, we are convinced that the best hope for improving the lives of the people of West Papua – our fellow Melanesians – is to work closely with the Indonesian Government.
To provide encouragement and support in an atmosphere of co-operation and friendship. To encourage it in its current program to govern West Papua in an inclusive and enlightened manner.
We cannot erase the history of West Papua and some of the negative aspects of that history, which we acknowledge include significant human rights violations.
But the Indonesia that presided over those excesses is not the Indonesia we know today. It is now one of the most vibrant democracies in the world. And at a national level, Indonesia is also committed to righting some of the wrongs of the past and placing West Papua on a new course.
– I want to commend the Indonesian President and his Government for the steps they are taking to improve conditions in West Papua for its Melanesian population.
The Indonesian Government recognises the need to do so and the President has personally committed himself to this issue.
So it is incumbent on the MSG countries to Continues on page 20
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support him in this effort and engage with Indonesia on West Papua in a positive and constructive manner.
– From Fiji’s perspective, the best way to achieve this is to bring Indonesia closer into the workings of the MSG.
Which is why we have supported elevating Indonesia from observer status to Associate Member.
By strengthening our engagement as an organisation with Indonesia, we are also strengthening our joint co-operation on issues relating to West Papua.
And strengthening our own engagement with the West Papuans themselves – the elected representatives of the Melanesian people within the Indonesian democracy.
Fiji is convinced that this is not only the best way to improve the situation for our Melanesi-
an brothers and sisters in West Papua. It is the only way.
– Mr Chairman, my fellow leaders. At the same time, we also hope that as time progresses, those West Papuans who are outside Indonesia can also become part of that engagement.
We acknowledge that the United Liberation Movement for West Papua represents a significant body of opinion in the West Papuan diaspora and also has the welfare of the West Papuan people at heart.
So it is also in the interests of everyone that they also be brought into the process.
– The ULMWP has now been granted observer status at the MSG.
This may be a disappointment to those who were hoping for full membership.
But our rules of membership made that impossible.
The ULMWP is not the sovereign power in West Papua.
It is an external, non government organisation that may represent West Papuan interests and opinion.
But the MSG simply could not give it the status it desired without compromising a fundamental principal.
That non-government organisations cannot have the same status as governments in our organisation.
– I appeal to the ULMWP not to regard this as a defeat but an opportunity.
You have now been brought into the fold.
Use this privilege to also work with us for the betterment of every West Papuan.
Working together – Indonesia, the MSG countries and the West Papuan diaspora – we can achieve much better outcomes for the West Papuan people.
Let us turn our backs on the years of killing, hatred and suspicion and work towards a new era – one of engagement, co-operation and collaboration between all the parties to achieve a better outcome for the people of West Papua.
It is the best way to improve their circumstances. It is the only way.
-Mr Chairman, my fellow leaders. For Fiji, the issue of climate change is of singular importance.
As you all know, every Pacific country is affected in one way or another.
And in the case of three nations – Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands – their very existence is threatened by the rising seas.
We have our opportunity later this year to get the industrialised nations to finally sign up to the dramatic cuts in carbon emissions that the scientists say are needed to avert catastrophe. And it is an opportunity that we must all take.
– Fiji intends to work with its Pacific neighbours to lead the charge at the World Climate Summit in Paris at the end of November.
This issue, of course, has been at the heart of our deliberations this week.
But I want to again urge you all – my fellow Melanesian leaders – to join me in a concerted effort to make the world finally sit up and take notice.
The time for talking on climate change is over.
The time for radical action is now. And we must all make sure that the entire world recognises this seminal issue for our wellbeing and survival in the Pacific and finally take the necessary action.
– We have less than six months to get this crisis – from our perspective – on the global agenda.
And I urge you all to put it at the top of your own agendas and make your own voices heard. Loudly.
Fiji wants to work with you all to coordinate our planning for the Paris summit.