The motion to ratify the 2005 Agreement establishing the Pacific Islands Forum has been passed by the Fijian parliament Wednesday.
The agreement recognises the Forum as an international organisation and will be a region of peace, harmony, security, and economic prosperity, whose people can all lead free and worthwhile lives.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said Fiji remains a key player in the region and it will do its best in spearheading the work of the Forum.
He assured that Fiji’s chairmanship of the Pacific Island Forum will bring about the change the region deserves.
“Fiji was suspended from the Forum – a decision Pacific regretted. This is something that through our leadership we will not allow any other country to go through. Fiji, just fully joined the Forum in 2019 in the Leaders Meeting in Tuvalu. We began the ratification process after rejoining the Forum. It was unfortunate that it has taken us long to ratify this agreement but it was outside of our control,” said Bainimarama in Parliament.
Bainimarama also said Fiji will not shy away from holding accountable regional organisations so long they are kept on track.
“USP and regionalism. Even though we are committed to the operation of regional organisation we also need to keep them accountable. But we will not shy away from keeping regional organisations accountable. It is a position that we have always maintained in regional discussions and we will continue to make,” he said.
Bainimarama told parliament regional leaders have realised the many challenges faced in the region. He highlighted that the Pacific Way will continue to be a means of regional engagement and cooperation.
“I note that regionalism has not been excellent over the years – it continues to be a challenge but I can confirm that with everyone, Fiji’s Chairmanship in the Forum, will bring about the change the region deserves.
“I as Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum will rely on to resolve our differences, rebuild trust and reaffirm our collective commitment for a better Pacific for all.
“I remain confident that as always, Fiji will do its part to emphasise unity and solidarity in the region and ensure that we remain committed to the goals and purpose of the Pacific Islands Forum.
“Lastly as a founding member, host to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, Fiji’s ratification of this Agreement is an important step forward in promoting regional solidarity and unity,” PM Bainimarama said.
He also highlighted the reason why Fiji established the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF).
“I will also add here that within the regional architecture we see the role of the Pacific Islands Development Forum being complementary to the Pacific Islands Forum as it brings a unique format to the region with the inclusion of the Private Sector and the Civil Society Organisations in its fold.
“The Pacific Island Forum doesn’t have this,” Bainimarama explained.
“This is one of the reasons why we established the PIDF – we realised that even though we were suspended from the PIF – Pacific countries still depended on us. We therefore established the PIDF as a medium to channel our assistance and assist other countries.
“In addition, this is the reason why we established a new division of the roving ambassador in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We are development partners to countries in the region. We have many memorandum of understanding with Pacific’s small island developing states and have been assisting them and we will continue to do this. And I am confident to see this now. And as I said the PIDF has civil society participation which PIF doesn’t have,” said Forum Chair Bainimarama.
SOURCE: PACNEWS/FBC NEWS