Vanuatu leaders want the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to take a more active role in putting the focus back on the fundamental founding principle of political self-determination of the Melanesian people.
Presenting his statement at the 21st MSG Leaders Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea at 4pm yesterday, Prime Minister Charlot Salwai said the MSG chair would agree the MSG originated from a vision backed by strong political desire to strive for the entire decolonisation of the sub region and freedom of the Melanesian people still under the colonial rule.
Prime minister Salwai recalled the leaders agreed at their inaugural meeting held in Goroka, Papua New Guinea on July 17, 1986 that it was important to have common positions and solidarity in spearheading regional issues that are of common interest, including the FLNKS cause for political independence in New Caledonia and the rest of the Melanesian countries that are still struggling for political liberation.
“It is important to remind ourselves as leaders of this organisation that in the quest to be the leading organisation in advancing socio-economic development and political interest of Melanesia and the wider Pacific, we must not lose sight of the core founding principle of this grouping, the achievement of political independence for our Melanesian brothers and sisters,” said PM Salwai.
“This is the raison d’etre for this group, and it must not be diluted in our wider consideration. I therefore encourage the MSG to work in collaboration with parties concerned and encourage dialogue between Indonesia and West Papua to progress the issue forward, as this has been the case with France and FLNKS.”
He conveyed his trust that the current MSG chairman will re-direct the work of the Secretariat to realign its program to key agreed principles of the MSG and promote collaborative dialogue in all its endeavors.
“I believe that while we embrace emerging development challenges and opportunities, we must not lose sight of the need to get our foundations right at the beginning,” he said.
“Our group has come a long way since its establishment and it has been tested and faced challenges over the years but our solidarity remains.
“Vanuatu would like to see the MSG take a more active role in putting back the focus back on our fundamental founding principle of political self-determination of Melanesia, while at the same time creating economic development and opportunities for our sub region.”
“The MSG must play a more consistent and strengthened role in this respect.”
In his address at the MSG Foreign Ministers meeting earlier, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade Ralph Regenvanu congratulated PNG on assuming the chairmanship of the MSG this year and thanked the outgoing chair, the Solomon Islands for their able leadership as chair of the MSG in the last three years.
He commended the theme of the 21st Melanesian Spearhead Group Leaders Summit: Strengthening Trade and Sustainable Development for an inclusive Melanesia, as being aptly aligned to the MSG 2038 Prosperity for All Plan, which constitutes the leaders’ vision for the Development of the MSG over the next two decades.
He noted there are developments from the MSG in this regard which are to be acknowledged, saying MSG leaders must not lose the sight of the core founding principle of the grouping.
“While we strive for strong economic development opportunities, we must be equally strong and vocal on this founding principle and foundational mandate,” said minister Regenvanu.
“If there are any reasons and obstacles impeding our work in progressing this mandate further then we as MSG members around this table need to look at options available.
“Furthermore, we take note of the structural reforms that are being undertaken by the secretariat. It is Vanuatu’s position that such reforms must comply with the legislation of the host country.
“We must ensure that the consensus of our leaders as the basic governance principle of this organisation is paramount at all times in guiding the administrative work of the secretariat.”
He said the collective voice of the group must resonate with this pertinent issue at the United Nations Committee of 24.
Both Prime minister Salwai and Minister Regenvanu acknowledged the government and the people of PNG for the warm hospitality accorded to all the delegates.