Good Morning friends, Monin tru ol wantok, Dabai Namona tura,
I greet you in the 3 official languages of Papua New Guinea (English, Tokpisin, and Motu – the language of the traditional landowners of the land upon which Port Moresby stands).
I welcome you all to the City of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea – and extend an especially warm welcome to friends amongst us who have travelled to our shores from across our Ocean to take part in the workshop organized jointly by the Pacific Islands News Association and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
Later on next week, some of you will be on hand to attend and cover the 46th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Summit, another milestone regional engagement that the PNG Government and people are indeed honored to host this year to coincide with the nation’s independence celebration of 40 relatively short, but maturing years of our country’s coming of age as a economically robust, culturally vibrant and one of the most politically stable democracy in this region.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Papua New Guinea fully acknowledges the importance attached to the establishment of the Pacific Islands Forum as the paramount regional organization that promotes cooperation and integration of governance and alignment of policies in order to further Forum Members’ shared goals of economic growth, sustainable development and security.
The success of regionalism will depend on the strength of our connections at all levels from government, community, cultural, and of course sporting. It was indeed a pleasure to host our brothers and sisters from across the Pacific Region
during the Pacific Games in July here in Port Moresby that demonstrated another very important aspect of true Pacific regionalism.
Under the new Framework for Pacific Regionalism, the Pacific Islands Leaders will take collective positions on key issues that will help propel this region forward over the long term future.
We recognize that we as a region face many similar developmental and social and economic, let alone environmental challenges. Regionalism – or working together as a region – provides an efficient and effective means to address these challenges. But in order for regionalism to work properly, the Leaders will hold frank discussions about pooling sovereignty, sharing resources, and agreeing upon regional practices, norms and standards.
These will be difficult conversations for our Leaders to have – after all, we are 16 independent sovereign nations, many of us having attained independence only in the last 50 years. We each have visions and plans for the future of our sovereign nations.
However, it is with a recognition of the strengths of working collectively, as well as in the spirit of helping and supporting our fellow Pacific brothers and sisters that the Forum Leaders will enter into serious considerations of regionalism.
Papua New Guinea is naturally positioned and stands ready to take a leadership role in propelling Pacific regionalism; and as we take on our role as incoming chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, Prime Minister O’Neill intends to make good on the theme of this year’s Leaders meeting: “Strengthening Connections to Enhance Pacific Regionalism”. PNG intends to strengthen its relationships both within and out of the Pacific to enhance regionalism.
It was in one of our northern towns, Madang, 20 years ago, that Forum Leaders had the vision to adopt the Kalibobo Road Map, – wherein it initially set out the direction for issues of common concern and challenges could be progressed and addressed – the first steps on the road to Pacific regionalism as we speak of it today.
In 2013, the Morauta Review of the Pacific Plan further provided the impetus towards laying the foundation and commitment to implement the new Framework for Pacific Regionalism.
Hence, it is not by mistake that PNG should be the staging point for the end part of that process, the call for Leaders to stand up together and call for a full on
implementation of the Framework for Pacific Regionalism through strengthening connections to enhance Pacific regionalism.
Papua New Guinea also stands ready to work in a collective leadership with the Pacific Island Nations in the ACP-EU, APEC and with the ASEAN countries
Media also plays an important role to enhance pacific regionalism and also strengthen connections at the global.