2023 WELCOMING OF THE FORUM CHAIR AND HONUROUABLE PRIME MINISTER OF THE REPUBLIC OF FIJI – SITIVENI RABUKA
OPENING REMARKS BY SECRETARY GENERAL HENRY PUNA
18 January 2023
At this auspicious occasion, it is my greatest honour and pleasure to welcome you to your Secretariat, Forum Chair and Honourable Prime Minister – Ni Sa Bula Vinaka!
We are delighted to host you this evening Honourable Prime Minister. We thank you for taking the time away from, what is no doubt a very busy schedule, to sit among your regional family so that we may accord you a traditional regional welcome.
Honourable Prime Minister, this Secretariat still carries the hallmarks of your leadership and efforts through the Forum of yester years, numerous Forum Meetings and other momentous regional achievements.
In fact, we have much more to learn from you, a son of the region that has returned to steer our Blue Pacific canoe at this crucial time.
So for now, I will not exhaust you with our laundry list of issues but you can count on a constant barrage of briefings and meeting requests from me and my team in the very near future.
Honourable Prime Minister let me reiterate that your Secretariat stands prepared to work with you and your Government.
Given that Fiji is the home of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the affairs of the people and government of Fiji are close to the hearts of many of our Secretariat staff and families.
Your leadership comes at a most crucial time. From the podium of the Pacific Island Forum, we will look to you to lead us on the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific, to bridge and heal our family relations, and to transition us into the leadership of the Cook Islands as the incoming Pacific Island Forum Chair.
Your own achievements and legacy in the region give our regional family a fighting chance of successfully navigating these critical issues.
Honourable Prime Minister, you well understand that we are at a juncture where, amongst other things, climate change threatens our survival, multilateralism is failing, and geopolitical competition in our region seeks to divide us.
History has shown that the Pacific and the Forum has been at its best in moments of challenge. We, Pacific people, have an initiate knack for being innovative, for being resilient and for being able to withstand the test and trials of time. Drawing from that, we only see good things ahead with you at the helm, Honourable Prime Minister.
In closing Honourable Prime Minister, we have every confidence that with solidarity and resolve, you will lead us to the realisation of our collective aspirations as people of the Blue Pacific and a smooth transition of the Forum helm of leadership.