FIJI AT THE FOREFRONT IN UPSCALING REGIONAL ENGAGEMENTS FOR PALM 9

Fiji has been at the centre stage in leading engagements at the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM) Ministerial Interim Meeting (MIM) for PALM 9, which was held in the form of a video conference yesterday. The meeting was co-chaired by Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, and the Hon. Simon KOFE, Minister for Justice, Communications and Foreign Affairs of Tuvalu, current Chair of the PIF.

Representatives from the 18 Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) members, including Foreign Ministers, attended the meeting, with the objective of reviewing the progress on the outcomes of PALM 8, which was held in May 2018, and exchange views on PALM 9, which is to be held at Shima City, Mie Prefecture, in 2021.

Fiji was among the following PIF members that participated in the MIM PALM; Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Australia and New Zealand.

Representing Fiji at this meeting was the Minister for Defence, National Security and Policing, Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management, Honourable Inia Seruiratu.

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In delivering his statement at this meeting, Minister Seruiratu commended the efforts of Japan in forging stronger levels of partnership and enhanced cooperation afforded to the Pacific region through this PALM process.

“It is a clear demonstration of Japan’s commitment to the region, which is indeed highly welcomed by all Pacific countries. I also take this opportunity to recognise the renewed approach and partnership that we have seen in the PALM process in recent years, including the engagement of the full Forum Membership through the PALM mechanism.

“We would all appreciate that this approach not only enhances the effectiveness of Japan’s partnership in the Pacific region, but ensures that it addresses and contributes to the progress of our collective regional priorities,” Minister Seruiratu said.

Fiji called for international and regional solidarity in mapping the way forward to rebuilding back better and stronger.

“In saying this, it is also important to mention that our focus and efforts have now transitioned towards economic recovery and working to ensure that we have equitable access to safe COVID-19 health care and vaccines. Accordingly, we continue to urge all our partners to support the region’s recovery efforts through ensuring coordination and alignment of their responses and assistance to national and regional priorities and plans.”

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In reflecting on the historic commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Pacific Islands Forum next year, Minister Seruiratu emphasised on the importance of PIF’s role in shaping the regional architecture that is relevant and responsive, coupled with effective development partnerships to respond to the regional priorities.

Minister Seruiratu impressed upon the importance of 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent in advancing the region’s Sustainable Development moving forward, post COVID-19.

“At its core, the 2050 Strategy is about securing the future of our Blue Pacific and recognises that this will require strong, regional collective action and aligned support from our international partners.

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“We are cognisant of Japan’s development cooperation agreements with countries and that it differs based on priorities and interests. As we project ourselves for the future, I believe that we must also seize the opportunity to re-evaluate our collective relationship at the regional level to ensure that it is aligned to the 2050 Strategy.” He said that the Pacific on its part sees Japan as an important Strategic partner in achieving the common aspirations focused on promoting global peace and prosperity.

“As the world continues to witness in the case of climate change, we remain optimistic of the resolve of Pacific peoples and our ability to rise above the challenges more resilient and stronger than ever before.

“There remains a need to scale up commitments at the global level in line with the Paris Agreement, not only regarding the understanding of our unique challenges but also the needed assistance to successfully overcome them. The Pacific on its part sees Japan as an important Strategic partner on all of these.”