By Pita Ligaiula
The Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting has ended in Fiji with the endorsement of the Suva Agreement.
This was confirmed by the Forum Chair and Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama during a press conference at the Forum Secretariat in Suva.
Bainimarama said the leaders recognised the Suva Agreement as a political commitment to reform the Pacific Islands Forum and for officials to commence the work on the operationalisation of the Suva Agreement.
“I’m pleased to confirm that we have reached a resolution on the withdrawal of our other Micronesia Members which is now entitled the Suva Agreement. 17 of our Forum leaders have signed this document and we now transitioning into the operalisation phase.
Bainimarama said today leaders also discussed Kiribati’s decision to withdraw from the premier political organisation and welcome Kiribati willingness to remain open to dialogue to promote Forum unity emphasising the importance of genuine consultation and engagement.
Bainimarama confirmed that he spoke with Kiribati President Taneti Maamau today.
“I had the pleasure of speaking with President Maamau this afternoon and I wished him and his people a wonderful national day and reaffirmed with him our collective agreement to continue to dialogue with Kiribati to find a resolution to this impasse. We will spare no efforts in this regard.
The decisions on the hosting arrangements of the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner and the Sub-Regional Office as well as the appointment of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner are still to be finalised.
Bainimarama said leaders also endorsed the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent as the overarching blueprint to advance Pacific regionalism for the next three decades.
He said unity was the over-riding focus of their discussions today together with the 2050 Strategy and the Review of the Regional Architecture.
“They will see that we are more than the sum of our parts, they must see that while we are citizens of our own countries and territories, the tides of history have determined that we are one people.”
This framework re-defines how the Forum will be engaging with the world outside of our Blue continent” said Bainimarama.
Forum Secretary General Henry Puna said this development provides a new narrative for Pacific regionalism.
“Pacific regionalism is more than a set of activities, it is an expression of our shared vision and ambitions and it is about how we come together to address our shared challenges and to make the most of our shared strengths and opportunities.”
Bainimarama said it is imperative to engage with young people who will be inheriting the success of this strategy.
“It is also why the Strategy focuses on our ocean and our shared natural and environmental resources as a critical part of the strategy within the 2050 Strategy.”
Bainimarama said leaders also considered and endorsed the decision relating to climate action and nuclear issues and noted updates on the regional fisheries developments and the Forum Ministerial Committee to New Caledonia.
The leaders also agreed for Cook Islands to host the next Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting while Tonga to host in 2024 and Solomon Islands in 2025.