Thursday, February 15, 2018

1) West Papua membership issue still unresolved at MS

1) West Papua membership issue still unresolved at MSG
2) Speech by PM O'Neill at MSG Summit, Port Moresby

1) West Papua membership issue still unresolved at MSG
From 6:01 am today 

Leaders of Melanesian Spearhead Group countries have referred a West Papuan application for full membership in the group to its secretariat for processing.
The leaders had their summit this week in Papua New Guinea's capital Port Moresby.
A long-pending application for Spearhead membership by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua is to be processed under new guidelines for membership.
Johnny Blades has more.

Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders at their 2018 summit: (left to right:) Fiji's Defence Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Victor Tutugoro of New Caledonia's FLNKS Kanaks Movement, PNG prime minister Peter O'Neill, prime minister of Solomon Islands Rick Hou, and Vanuatu's prime minister Charlot Salwai. Photo: Twitter / Ratu Inoke Kubuabola


JOHNNY BLADES: So the MSG - whose five full members are Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia's FLNKS Kanaks Movement - has been wrestling with this matter of full West Papuan membership for a number of years. Shortly after forming, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua was granted observer status in the MSG in 2015. But since then, they've been lobbying strongly for more representation at the MSG, this subregional body, arguing it is the best first avenue for addressing their long-running grievances with Indonesian rule. Yet there's been an impasse within the group over whether to grant the West Papuans that full membership. You've got Vanuatu and Solomon Islands and the FLNKS very much supportive of it, or who in recent years have indicated their support, whereas PNG and Fiji have basically opposed it. It seems like they are more toeing the line of Indonesia who of course is an associate member in the group. Indonesia has opposed the Liberation Movement taking such a part in the MSG.
DON WISEMAN: And this is why the leaders back in 2016 requested the MSG secretariat to clarify guidelines around membership?
JB: Yes, it was found that the guidelines on membership weren't clear - or at least that different interpretations on what they meant were creating a problem around this West Papua matter. So a special committee was established to develop new guidelines. This has been done, and after almost two years, the MSG leaders this week formally approved the criteria. This is the criteria under which the United Liberation Movement for West Papua's bid for membership is to be processed by the MSG secretariat.
DW: So what does this mean for the West Papuan membership application?
JB: Well, in the short term, more waiting. It's unclear whether this is just another way to defer the decision for an indefinite period. And is it a technical decision to be made, or a political one? Or a bit of both? It's still a bit confusing.
DW: What is Indonesia's response to this?
JB: At the summit, Indonesia delivered a warning to the MSG member states not to meddle in other countries' matters. Their delegation head, Desra Percaya, said "we remind member states to continue to focus on the principles of MSG, the core principles, and to refrain from meddling in other countries` businesses". That's interesting though because the MSG's founding principle really was to work towards the entire decolonisation of Melanesia.
DW: And the Liberation Movement?
JB: They remain hopeful, and have always been very respectful of MSG leaders's decisions on this ongoing matter. But ahead of the summit, they had submitted their short, medium, long-term political and social agendas and demonstrated again that they've got sort of unity of representation of all the major West Papuan groups. But coming out of this summit, I think there is some frustration among some MSG member governments that this West Papua issue remains at this stage. I think the leaders are all in broad agreement that the MSG states should work together towards more regional, economic co-operation, and they've all outwardly happy with the re-structure now being undertaken by the secretariat, which has been poorly financed in recent years. But the West Papua issue remains a sticking point. And Vanuatu's prime minister Charlot Salwai has told local media that he's worried that that founding principle of freeing all melanesian peoples from colonialism has sort of got lost along the way. So he wants the MSG to take a more active role in putting the focus of the group back on self-determination of Melanesia. And he cited the case of the Kanaks (in New Caledonia). He says MSG should work with the Papuans and the Indonesians more closely to get them together as it were to progress the issue forward, as has been the case with france and the Kanaks. And that's a nod to the fact that there's a self-determination referendum due to happen in New Caledonia later this year.

2) Speech by PM O'Neill at MSG Summit, Port Moresby
Your Excellences,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is again my honour, as Chair, to welcome you all to this 21st Melanesian Spearhead Group Leaders’ Summit in Port Moresby.

I thank the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, and the Government and people of the Solomon Islands, for successfully chairing MSG, and I thank them for that.

The Solomon Islands went beyond the mandatory two-year chairmanship of the MSG.

The humble beginnings of MSG go way back to the informal meeting of Melanesian Leaders in Goroka, in Papua New Guinea, 32 years ago.

Two years later in 1988, MSG members agreed on the Principles of Cooperation in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

MSG established the MSG Secretariat Headquarters in Port-Vila to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

From this we have seen enormous leaps forward in the way Melanesian people work together.

This includes governance, security, sustainable and economic development, trade and investment, and certainly in the arts and culture.

I am very encouraged by the review of the “MSG 2038 Prosperity for all Plan.”

Scheduled for later this year, discussion on this issue will enable us to consider a more realistic approach for the resourcing and implementation of the Plan.

The capacity of our Members to lead and host high-level global events is been tried and tested in our region.

Two examples stand out.

Firstly, we congratulate and continue to pledge our support for Fiji’s current Presidency of COP-23.

We all have an interest in dealing with environmental issues – particularly the threat brought about by climate change.

Our countries, and our people are all threatened by changes in climate, and the disasters this brings upon us.

Extreme weather conditions, in the form of tropical storms, and the devastation of drought – has been killing our people and destroying communities.

We all know how serious climate change is – with the effect that our people are dying as a result.

As a group of collective minds, we must and we will make our voices heard in the global community.

At COP-21, in Paris in 2016, our countries were all signatories to a plan of action – and MSG must be at the forefront of making sure the global community of nations keeps to its commitments.

We note the devastation that has been brought on countries like Tonga and Fiji and other Pacific Nations recently.

Secondly, Papua New Guinea is chairing the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum this year.

This will culminate with the APEC Leaders’ Summit in November.

Papua New Guinea is the only Developing Pacific Island member of APEC, and we will continue to present the views of the Pacific – in the Asia-Pacific.

We have a very strong commitment to share the benefits of hosting APEC with Pacific Island Nations.

As 2018 APEC Chair I have invited Leaders from the Pacific to join the dialogue with APEC Leaders.

That will be done, and it is a unique opportunity.

The APEC agenda provides great opportunity for Pacific Island Nations.

APEC is committed to not only expanding free trade, but to building the capacity for all economies to trade in a fair environment.

Importantly, our APEC agenda has a very clear commitment to enhancing connectivity of Pacific to Asian economies.

This means increasing access to the Internet – not only in cities, but for remote and rural communities.

By increasing online access, our people have direct connections to improve education, healthcare and business.

This is Papua New Guinea’s APEC commitment to Pacific Island Nations.

At a global level, I cannot overstate the importance of MSG Members working together – to comply with global regulatory requirements in strategic areas.

An example is our engagement with the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

This has direct impact on our air and sea transportation services.

Papua New Guinea will assist MSG Members in this regard – particularly through our work with the APEC Transportation Working Group and Ministerial processes.

Our MSG Summit has the theme: “Strengthening Trade and Sustainable Development – for an Inclusive Melanesia.”

This works in well with strategic goals of the Secretariat’s 2018-2020 Corporate Plan.

Indeed, my brief opening statement will be incomplete without a mention of the institutional structural reforms currently taking place at the MSG Secretariat.

Papua New Guinea, with other MSG Member States, remains committed to supporting the MSG Secretariat.

We will ensure that MSG will remain the premier sub-regional organisation in the Pacific.

We will continue to support one another during the challenging times ahead of us.

I wish us all a successful meeting today.

Thank you again for joining us in Port Moresby.

Thank you.

Posted by Staff Reporter : PNG Today on 2:29 PM. 

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