Prime Minister Hon. James Marape travels to Fiji today (Tuesday, July 12, 2022) for the 51st Pacific Islands Forum (PIF51) taking place in the capital, Suva. He will return on Thursday (July 14, 2022). PIF leaders from 18 member countries will gather face-to face for the first time since 2019 to discuss a basket of issues affecting the region.
PM Marape will meet host of the 51st PIF and Fijian Prime Minister Hon. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama and newly-elected Australian Prime Minister Hon. Anthony Albanese on the margins of the 51st PIF. The meeting, hosted by the Fijian government, is billed as one of the most-significant in recent history as the region gradually emerges from the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic.
PM Marape, who has been extremely caught up in election matters, has made time available in his very-busy schedule to participate as Head of Government at this important regional summit. “I will be out of the country for a day-and-a-half and return on Thursday, given that the elections are still in progress,” he said.
“In my absence, I have designated Deputy Prime Minister Hon. John Rosso, to be Acting Prime Minister “The PIF is a very-important regional meeting for all Pacific nations, and as the sitting Prime Minister of the largest island nation, I must attend to ensure that PNG presence is felt and support and discuss progress on our shared-regional issues.
“A very-pressing issue I have been handling, as a PIF leader, has been my involvement as Interlocutor of the Political Dialogue Mechanism (PDM) endorsed by PIF Leaders to negotiate an amicable way forward for Micronesian countries not break away from the PIF over contentious issues relating to the appointment of the Secretary-General of the PIF Secretariat. “Micronesian countries raised serious concerns that their candidate was not elected on a purported Gentlemans Agreement for the position of PIF Secretary-General under a regional rotational basis.
“In fact, there have been indications by Micronesia nations to break away from the PIF. “Yesterday, Kiribati and Nauru informed of their non-attendance at the 51st PIF “As a senior member of PIF, PNG plays an important role to ensure that we, as a family of Pacific nations, remain together in the interest of regional stability and a collective voice for our socio-economic development agenda.”
Apart from the above, PM Marape said several issues confronting the region would be on the table as the PIF celebrated 51 years of Pacific regionalism. “Among several issues which will be on the table are the intensifying geopolitical competition in the region, addressing the impacts of climate change, mending the Micronesian rift, COVID-19 recovery, and talks on the regional nuclear legacy, among others,” he said.
“The PIF in Suva is expected to conclude with the launching of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, which has been developed over three years after wide consultation across the region.
“The 2050 strategy, once endorsed, will become the blueprint that will set out the collective vision for the region in terms of oceans preservation, conservation and sustainable management for our future generations” Whilst in Suva, PM Marape will also hand-over the Chairmanship of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) at a Special MSG Leaders meeting on the margins of the 51st PIF to the incoming Chairman and Prime Minister of Vanuatu Hon. Bob Loughman.
He will also formally introduce the new Director-General of the MSG Secretariat, Mr Leonard Louma,, a senior PNG Citizen who will officially be stationed at the MSG Secretariat in Port Vila for the next four years.