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Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor’s remarks to the Solomon Islands Government – Forum Leaders meeting on RAMSI

Thursday 29 June, Heritage Park Hotel

 

 

Your Excellency, Sir Frank Kabui, Governor General of Solomon Islands

The Honourable Manasseh Sogavare, Prime Minister of Solomon Islands

Your Excellency, Peter M. Christian, President of the Federated States of Micronesia

            and the Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum

Your Excellency, Taneti Maamau, President of the Republic of Kiribati

Your Excellency, Tom Masters, the Queen’s Representative of the Cook Islands

Your Excellency, Iakoba Italeli, Governor General of Tuvalu

The Honourable Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of the Independent State of Samoa

Your Excellency, Antonio Bells, Vice President of the Republic Palau

The Honourable Paula Bennett, Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand

The Honourable Joe Natuman, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu

The Honourable Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, Former President of the Republic of Fiji

Honourable Ministers & Special Envoys

The RAMSI Special Coordinator and the men and women of RAMSI

Police commissioners

The people of Solomon Islands

Members of the clergy

Distinguished guests

Ladies & gentlemen

 

It is an honour and privilege for me to address you. 

This week marks a milestone. The success of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands is an achievement for both Solomon Islands and the Pacific region. Today we celebrate the tremendous strides made by Solomon Islands in becoming a stable, strengthened and self-reliant democracy.

RAMSI has completed its mission and there is much to be proud of – the early restoration of law and order, ensuring stability and thereby enabling an environment where: national institutions have been re-set and strengthened; gender equality is valued and promoted; national finances stabilised; business confidence rebuilt; greater employment opportunities are created; and reliable essential services are provided across the archipelago.The foundations for building long term peace have been established.

RAMSI was the first regional mission carried out under Forum auspices, and governed by the Biketawa Declaration. Since its adoption by Forum Leaders in 2000, the Declaration – has become the Forum’s main crisis response mechanism. It has been invoked on three occasions, with RAMSI being the last existing intervention. 

The hallmark of the success of RAMSI was the support of all Forum member countries. We acknowledge as well the leadership and significant contribution of resources of Australia and New Zealand to the RAMSI.

RAMSI’s success also owes much to the Triumvirate partnership established in [2009] between the Government of Solomon Islands, RAMSI and the Pacific Islands Forum.

Allow me to pay tribute to the thousands of men and women of the Pacific who have served RAMSI. Notwithstanding the challenges experienced by both the people of Solomon Islands and RAMSI personnel, I believe that this region can be proud of the contribution made by our men and women to the work of RAMSI, and particularly in forging enduring relationships with the people of the Solomon Islands and amongst themselves.

Excellencies,

In celebrating the achievements of the Solomon Islands with the support of RAMSI over the last 14 years, we must also not forget the reason why RAMSI was required. The root causes that led to RAMSI have to be addressed and I am encouraged that the Solomon Islands Government, four years ago, recognised and took measures to address these issues – least RAMSI’s achievements be undone. As we go forward, the Forum Secretariat stands ready to assist, as required.

 So what have we learned?

The experience of our region under the Biketawa Declaration has taught us that the usefulness of the Declaration is strengthened by the willingness of all parties concerned to engage in the process.

Sustained political commitment leads to success. But this is not always easy. It can be difficult to see the collective long term benefits over the short term gains. Our collective challenge is to “think regionally, act locally”. And as you said yesterday Prime Minister, “No man is an island”.

Our diversity is our strength.

RAMSI’s success has been applying Pacific solutions to Pacific problems. Without preempting any national statements by Leaders, a key benefit of the RAMSI - not often recognised, has been the value gained by the 15 contributing countries from their participation in the RAMSI.  Irrespective of our size, within the Forum, we are all equal partners with equally important contributions.

Lastly, inclusion is at the heart of the Forum’s values. I see the increasing participation of women in uniform. I hope that it is reflected in all aspects of society in all our communities.

In concluding, allow me this opportunity to offer to the Solomon Islands Government and RAMSI, the Forum Secretariat’s warm congratulations on the enduring partnership over the last 14 years.  It is this spirit of cooperation and friendship that I believe truly defines the Pacific region and regionalism.

We ask for Gods blessings on the people of Solomon Islands.

I thank you. 

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