REMARKS: SG Puna Statement at 5th Korea-Pacific Foreign Ministers Meeting

5th Korea-Pacific Islands Countries Foreign Ministers Meeting
26 October 2022

Statement by Mr. Henry Puna
Secretary General – Pacific Islands Forum


Honourable Park Jin, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea
Honourable Dalton Tagelagi, Premier and Foreign Minister of Niue
Honourable Ministers
Heads of Delegations
Ladies and Gentlemen

• Thank you for the opportunity to address you here today. At the outset, may I commend and fully support the excellent interventions of all speakers before me. I am heartened by the overwhelming support for reinvigorated partnerships, building from principles that we hold dear in the Pacific and of course our recent summit with the US at the highest level. It is testament to the political will in the room today that we continue to strive to ensure our partnerships are genuine, durable, and based on an equal footing.

• Excellencies and Honorable Ministers, the world is a different place today than it was 3 years ago – 10 years ago – 30 years ago. And while we accept that times have changed, at their core, the key issues that we face in the Pacific remain largely the same. And these challenges persist despite considerable effort and resource.

• Because of this, we in the Pacific call for revitalised partnerships that will help us achieve our long-term vision for a region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion, and prosperity, so that all Pacific people can lead free, healthy, and productive lives.

• As the Ministers before me have highlighted, the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent endorsed by Leaders earlier this year is our region’s approach to achieving our vision. And therefore, it is imperative that all of our genuine partners align themselves to this strategy.

• Excellencies and Honorable Ministers, I am also pleased to say that the 2050 Strategy has entrenched Forum unity and centrality in our engagement within and beyond the borders of our oceanic region. Despite its endorsement only 3 short months ago, it has transformed the manner in which we unite and engage as a bloc. We saw this recently in the US where the Blue Pacific made tremendous gains on Pacific regional priorities.

• And it is within this context that we arrive here today. Open to ideas and mandated under a clear Strategy to do what is needed to secure the future of our Blue Continent.

• Forum Dialogue Partners, and importantly Korea, will have a critical role to play in achieving our aspirations. It requires contemporary, innovative and transformative action to address critical issues of our time – Climate Change; Ocean Governance; Economic Development.

• In 2021, Forum Leaders endorsed revised Criteria and Guidelines for Forum Dialogue Partners to ensure genuine and mutually beneficial partnerships. The Blue Pacific Principles for Dialogue and Engagement feature prominently therein, and as directed by Leaders, apply to all dialogues and engagements with Dialogue Partners. As their Secretary General, I reiterate Leaders’ appeal for Dialogue Partners to affirm their commitment and to act in accordance with the revised Criteria and Guidelines.

• Excellencies and Honorable Ministers, in closing, the Forum welcomes the first ever Korea – Pacific Leaders’ Summit scheduled next year. Recognising Forum centrality to the Blue Pacific, it is our request that participation at this crucial summit is extended to the entire Forum Membership.

• Noting that the 18 Leaders of the Forum comprise the premier political decision-making body in the Pacific, it would be remiss of us to not consider the missed opportunities we are bound to encounter without full inclusive engagement. I am nevertheless encouraged by what has transpired throughout our meeting and look forward to further discussion on the matter.

• Excellencies and Honorable Ministers, thank you once again for the opportunity to address you, and I wish you all a successful meeting ahead.

• Meitaki Ma’ata, Vinaka. –ENDS