Honourable Prime Ministers
Director of SPEC
I welcome you all on behalf of the Government and people of Solomon Islands. We are highly privileged and proud to be host to the Tenth South Pacific Forum.
We hope that those of you who were able to take part in the celebrations of our first year of Independence have enjoyed yourselves and have learned a little more of the culture and traditions of our people.
This meeting of course marks also another important anniversary – that of this Forum itself, which over the last decade has provided our independent and self-governing countries of the South Pacific with a forum in which we could discuss, at the highest political level, common problems, and seek concrete and positive solutions to our regional challenges.
Economic issues have featured prominently, and with the assistance of the South Pacific Bureau for
Economic Cooperation (SPEC) which was established by the Forum at Apia in 1973, our governments have made solid progress on a number of fronts including regional telecommunications, aviation, fisheries resources, trade and marketing, shipping and environment. We would all agree it has not been easy – there were pains and tribulations, but we have learned from these and they have become our great sources of present strength and solidarity.
Many of us are young countries, with limited resources, but we all share a common belief that while we are independent, we are also closely interdependent, and have a strong commitment to improve the welfare of our peoples through appropriate regional cooperation.
The Forum has given the region a much-needed united voice, which has already been effective in presenting our case in a variety of international fora. Ones. The issues which face this 10th Forum are historic Membership in particular is a question. which you will be deliberating. New members offer the advantages of new blood and the excitement of new ideas and strength to the Forum, but caution must be exercised to ensure that the established Forum traditions are not prejudiced.
The question of the Forum Fisheries Agency which was established by last year’s Forum at Niue is a subject close to the heart of Solomons. We are proud to be the host government of this regional endeavour and will work with other members to ensure that the Agency plays an active and satisfactory role in promoting the development of fisheries resources in all our countries for the benefits of our people.
Despite limited resources, governments have proved themselves to be responsible and capable in meeting the needs and aspirations of their people. At this juncture, we of the smaller nations in the region would wish to express our sincere appreciation for the substantial help and assistance given towards our regional development by our larger member countries, Australia and New Zealand. We are appreciative also of the support given to us by international organisations. This has been most welcome, and hope it will continue, in the spirit of world cooperation.
This is the last Forum at which we will have the honour of having Hon Mahe Tupouniua as Director of
SPEC. We in Solomon Islands have been very conscious of the outstanding contribution Mahe has given to the region in his present capacity as Director of SPEC, and I am sure we have all appreciated the guidance which he has given to us in the region over the last seven years.
I have read with great interest the Director’s Annual Report for 1978/79 and commend it to you. I believe that the observations which Mahe has made in his closing paragraphs, sum up the role and purpose of the Forum: – I quote, – “The strength of the region (in the task of meeting and overcoming the problems of the region) will lie in the commitment to common goals, a unity of purpose and a conviction that solutions can and must be found”.
I wish you now, ladies and gentlemen, success in your deliberations, and hereby officially declare this 10th South Pacific Forum open.