2018 FORUM FOREIGN MINISTERS MEETING
Opening Remarks by the Prime Minister of the Independent State of Samoa and Forum Chair
The Right Honourable Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi
10 August 2018
Taumeasina Island Resort
- Good morning Excellences. It is my great privilege to chair the 2018 meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Pacific Islands Forum.
- I acknowledge the presence of: Head of State HE Baron Divavesi Waqa, President of Nauru, Heads of Government Hon Akilisi Pohiva, Prime Minister of Tonga, Hon Henry Puna, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands – congratulations on successful elections, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister Fiame Naomi, Vice President of New Caledonia, Hon Ministers and Heads of delegations.
- Let me also acknowledge Secretary General Taylor and the Heads of our CROP agencies.
- I am very pleased to host this year’s meeting of the Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting. Even though it was almost a year ago, it does not seem so long that we hosted the Forum Leaders Meeting. As you well know, that meeting inspired a commitment amongst Forum Leaders to work together as the ‘Blue Pacific’.
- I see the Blue Pacific as a powerful narrative that brings us together, drawing on our shared ocean identity, ocean geography, and ocean resources. It serves to empower us – reminding us of the value and potential of our region, encouraging us to think and act from a position of strength.
- The theme for this year’s Forum Leaders meeting ‘Building a Strong Pacific – Our Islands, Our People, Our Will’ calls on us to strengthen our collective will in order overcome our persistent development challenges and drive our own development ambitions.
- The theme is indeed a timely one. As the global geopolitical landscape shifts, the Pacific is again becoming the focus of increasing strategic competition and cooperation, presenting us with both opportunity and challenge.
- As Foreign Ministers we are charged with navigating this intricate environment to promote the interests of our countries and our region. And while our world is inherently unpredictable and complex, I believe that the Blue Pacific narrative provides us with a sense of focus and coherence, so that we can steadily and strategically progress our regional priorities and achieve our goals under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism.
- Our agenda today provides us with an opportunity to discuss how we can work together to promote the security and development of our Blue Pacific.
- I am particularly pleased to see that we are able to advance discussions on two issues which Foreign Ministers highlighted last year for action.
- The first of these concern opportunities for strengthening the Forum’s international engagement and advocacy. As we well know, as Ministers and Leaders we may agree within the context of the Forum to new positions and initiatives to address our various challenges and realise our ambitions. But we also need to gain the support of other countries, and other organisations for support, action and resources. We will consider proposals for enhancing the effectiveness of our international engagement and advocacy through a dedicated strategy for engagement and advocacy, and clearly identified priorities. I am particularly interested to see how we can better maximise our Pacific voice as we head into COP 24 in Poland later this year.
- Last year, Foreign Ministers also considered that the time was right to build on the Forum’ existing security declarations to take account of current and emerging security issues. Leaders accepted this recommendation and the Secretariat subsequently embarked on an extensive process of consultations. Today we will have the opportunity to reflect on the outcomes of those consultations, and consider a proposal for a ‘Biketawa Plus’ Declaration.
- We also have the opportunity to discuss how we can promote greater security of our Blue Pacific through seeking certainty over our maritime boundaries. And we will discuss a proposal offered by the Forum Fisheries Minister for an aerial surveillance programme. In addition, we will be considering an application by Wallis and Futuna for Associate Membership of the Forum.
- Excellencies, we have a full and rich agenda before us – I look forward to our deliberations.