Opening statement by ASG Teo at SIS Leaders' Summit, Niue
Alofi, Niue
19 August 2009


Your Excellencies
Honourable Leaders and Ministers
Distinguished Delegates and Observers
CROP Heads and their representatives
Ladies and Gentlemen

With your permission, let me convene and call this meeting to order.

2. Good morning and fakalofa lahi atu and greetings to all of you distinguished Leaders of the Smaller Island States of the Forum.

3. Allow me to extend to you a warm welcome to Niue and to your meeting, the 17th annual Summit meeting of Leaders of the Smaller Island States (SIS) of the Pacific Islands Forum. I apologize for the early start this morning, but I hope you have recovered well from your travel to getting to Niue. I also hope that you have received your meeting material in good time before your meeting this morning and that other arrangements made for this meeting meet your approval.

4. You will note from the programme that only two hours have been set aside for your meeting this morning, so I don’t intend to spend much of your meeting time with these opening remarks.

5. At the outset, let me acknowledge and congratulate those Leaders who have taken up leadership role through winning their respective election, since the last SIS Leaders summit in Nukualofa, Tonga in October last year.

6. It is my great pleasure to welcome and congratulate the Honourable Toke Tufukia Talagi on his success in the recent elections here in Niue. The Hon Talagi, of course, is our host for this week and would be shouldering the responsibility of presiding over all the meetings this week.

7. I also welcome the President of Nauru, His Excellency Marcus Stephen, and the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands His Excellency Litokwa Tomeing to their first SIS Leaders’ meeting as Leaders.

8. I also would like to acknowledge an old hand of the SIS Summit the Beretitenti of Kiribati His Excellency Anote Tong and congratulating him for regaining his presidency, during the week of the SIS Leaders meeting in Tonga last year which prevented him from attending the meeting last year.

9. All of you would have received the sad news of the passing of the Forum Secretary General the late Mr Greg Urwin over a week ago. I know the rest of the Leaders will pay their tribute to the late Urwin at an appropriate time during the course of this week, but I just wish to acknowledge the enormous contribution by the late Urwin to the promotion and safeguard of the special interests of SIS. Greg was very committed to the sustainable maintenance of the SIS Unit and SIS Pacific Plan Desk Officers within the Forum Secretariat who have, to date, served well the interests of the SIS.

10. On the same sad note, I also acknowledge the untimely passing of the Deputy Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) the late Falani Aukuso in late July. Falani, a son of Tokelau was a champion guardian of SIS interests in the work of SPC having been specially mandated to look after their interests as part of his terms of reference as DDG.

11. Coming to your meeting today, you will note that your officials met last month to consider likely issues for your summit today. Given the time constraints for this meeting, they have produced a single report by way of their Chair’s letter to your Chair outlining those issues.

12. There are ten issues identified by your officials on the basis of your deliberations last year and some of the emerging issues they consider warrant drawing to your attention. Time permitting, you are also at liberty to bring up any other issues and the Secretariat would be more than happy to assist you in addressing them.

13. One of the issues discussed at length by your officials and one that I want to specifically raise with you is the manner in which your outcomes are reflected in the Forum Leaders communiqué. Traditionally your outcomes are acknowledged and attached to the communiqué as an attachment or annex. There is a view that your outcomes should take a more prominent role in the communiqué. And that you should consider some of your key outcomes and argue for their reflection in the main body of the communiqué, instead of all them relegated to an attachment. I thought I will leave you with that viewpoint to reflect on, as you deliberate on the issues on your agenda.

14. The SIS Unit and the SIS desk officers within the Forum Secretariat you will note from the Officials report have been instrumental in supporting SIS address their capacity constraints in implementing the Pacific Plan initiatives and their specific issues that best addressed through regional or sub-regional responses. The Secretariat and I are committed to the long term maintenance of this Unit and will ensure it has sustainable funding to support it.

15. My apology for taking more time than I had intended but I though it useful to share with you some of those observations.

16. It now remains for me on your behalf and in keeping with SIS traditions to invite our host and Premier of Niue the Hon Toke Talagi to assume the Chair and preside over your deliberations.

17. I wish you successful and fruitful deliberations.

Thank you.