Cook Islands Prime Minister, Honourable Henry Puna, says this week’s decision to engage Fiji more fully into the Pacific ACP group was taken out of the Leaders’ respect for the Pacific Islands Forum and the Forum Leaders’ decisions taken in 2009 to suspend Fiji’s participation in Forum meetings and events.
“I commend and thank my fellow Leaders for their considered attention and decisions on Fiji’s participation in Pacific ACP meetings,” said Puna, the Pacific Islands Forum Chair and Chair of the Special Pacific ACP Leaders Meeting.
“But underscoring this decision was our collective respect for the Forum’s 2009 decision, which remains intact and subject to its own process.”
The Pacific ACP Leaders accomplished a way of engaging Fiji and embracing it into the family fold of this Pacific gathering, he explained. The ability of Fiji to participate in PACP Meetings at all levels was addressed by the endorsement of an initiative by Papua New Guinea to establish an interim secretariat. This interim secretariat arrangement will service Pacific ACP Leaders’ Meetings while the Forum Secretariat is to continue to meet its Forum obligations to assist PACP members with the ongoing trade-related negotiations with the EU. These include the present EPA rounds and the EDF considerations.
“The Pacific came together as a family and dealt with an important issue in a way that a family should – the Pacific way,” Puna said.
During their meeting in Rarotonga in August, PNG’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill offered to host a special meeting of Pacific ACP Leaders to address the way difficulties had been experienced in trying to engage Fiji in the PACP. Fiji’s suspension from the Forum had impacted its ability to meet and address certain issues and demands, particularly those related to trade with the EU.
Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama attended the one day Special Pacific ACP Leaders Meeting, hosted by PNG Prime Minister O’Neill and chaired by Prime Minister Puna.