Opening statement by SI Foreign Affairs Minister at ECM Meeting

Special Coordinator of RAMSI, Mr. Tim George,
Your Excellency, Mr. Peter Hooton, Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands,
Secretary to Prime Minster and SIG Head of Delegation, Mr. Jerry Manele,
Secretary to Cabinet, Ms. Ruth Liloqula,
Other Permanent Secretaries of the Solomon Islands Government,
Pacific Islands Forum Representative to Solomon Islands, Dr. Lesi Korovavala,
Other Distinguished participants and invited guests,
Media Representatives,
Ladies and Gentlemen

Let me first of all extend to our visitors a very warm welcome to our shores.

It is a great pleasure and privilege to officiate at such an important event, particularly today, on the 3rd Enhanced Consultative Mechanism Meeting on RAMSI. It is the third meeting of the three parties (Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, RAMSI and SIG).

The Enhanced Consultative Mechanism process is very important as it paves the way for effective consultation between the Government of Solomon Islands, the RAMSI participating countries and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat on how best we can achieve the Objectives and Goals of RAMSI and more significantly for better realization of these goals.

We all know too well the atmosphere within which the second ECM Meeting was convened in Honiara early this year. It was a mixed atmosphere bordering on uncertainty, albeit great anticipation but it turn out to be a success.

It is heartening to note the extremely satisfactory performance rate of the ECM since its meeting early this year. On that note, I wish to extend my congratulatory remarks to the officials for their continuous support and dedication that led us to where we are today.

You will recall that we established a new beginning in this partnership between RAMSI and SIG at the last ECM and FMSC meetings. One of the notable parts of this beginning is the emphasis we put on the ownership of the process of RAMSI by the Solomon Islands Government and its people.

I learnt that your meeting today will build on the established partnership and an opportunity for the partners to discuss the important Agenda items that are now before you.

The decision by the Ministers to establish a new SIG/RAMSI partnership framework signifies the confidence that they have in this Mechanism, more so, the consultative process in the formulation of this Partnership Framework. This partnership has its importance in the delivery of positive outcomes to the people of Solomon Islands through a continuous dialogue and consultation with RAMSI.

It is a fitting moment as well for this partnership to be formulated around the same time, when Solomon Islands celebrate its 30th year of political independence. It is pleasing to note that the theme of the 30th anniversary “Iumi tugeda bildim kantri blo iumi”- also reiterates the spirit of cooperation that is necessary for us as partners and parties to this Partnership Framework to work together as we build this nation, we call Solomon Islands.

In this respect, we will work closely with RAMSI and its participating countries and the Forum Secretariat in the framing and execution of this important Partnership Framework.

This Partnership Framework reflects and also contains the priorities of the Coalition for National Unity and Rural Advancement (CNURA) Government. It is our view that the structure of this Framework will assist us to align our efforts for greater impact on the livelihoods of the 80 plus per cent of our people that depends on economical rural activities to meet the basics of their rural livelihoods and its sustainability.

As you all know, this is a new approach and dimension to RAMSI; hence, it will require further consultation and cooperation between all the stakeholders. It is my desire that this consultation and the implementation processes of the agreed activities of this new approach will also honor our principle of respect for one another and the respect to uphold the sovereignty of Solomon Islands. I know that in carrying out the process there will be challenges ahead but with the existing rapport, structure for resolution and mutual cooperation we will be able to overcome any difficulties.

I note that you will also deliberate on other important matters such as the implementation of the recommendations of the 2007 PIF RAMSI Review Report, the future direction of PPF/SIPF relationship and the external offer to support RAMSI. I do not wish to pre-empt any outcomes of these subjects but I trust that your discussions will be mutual and the conclusions will be amicable to provide our Ministers with clear and sound advice.

Let me reiterate that the CNURA Government is committed to this important consultative process. The CNURA Government is committed to fostering positive results for the betterment of the people of Solomon Islands. As the saying goes, “no development can be classified as development until it affects the lives of the people of Solomon Islands”

It is also pleasing to note the enthusiasm and the spirit of cooperation that exists among the concerned parties and stakeholders when implementing the decisions of the FMSC from their meeting early this year.

I will be remiss if I do not recognize the significant results or achievements by all of you within the three months since we met early this year. On that note, I wish to commend all of you for a job well done.

Honiara is not Solomon Islands, so please take advantage of your brief visit to our nearby attractions and explore the beauty of what is again becoming the Happy Isles.

Finally ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude by encouraging all of you to continue the spirit of cooperation and your commitment in your future plans. In this context, I wish you all every success in your deliberations today and I am confident that our concerted efforts will advance this process and the new Partnership Framework to new heights.

On that note, I have much pleasure in declaring this meeting officially open.

God Bless Solomon Islands.

Thank you and Good Morning.