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New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has assured the Cook Islands that if it achieves developed nation status, the current relationship between the two countries will remain unchanged.
Replying to a question from CINews at Thursday’s press conference with Ardern, Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna and New Zealand deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, she said that the shortest answer was that nothing would change.
“Often of course the concern is that aid withdraws at that point. From from New Zealand’s perspective, that won’t happen,” she said.
“Our relationship is unique, and the nature of it means that it certainly extends beyond whatever the status that the Cook Islands could potentially be granted.”
Ardern said that achieving developed nation status would be a sign of a successful Cook Islands economy, and would reflect the huge amount of work put in to reach that level.
“But from our perspective, we will continue on as per usual.” Puna said the topic of graduation was currently the most important issue for the Cook Islands, although it was not something citizens should be afraid of.
“For us, it is a compliment. It is an assurance, a confirmation, that we are doing the right thing,” Puna said.
“We’ve been on the right path for a while, and our economy is on sound footing, and the pledge from New Zealand goes a long way to assuring us that there is nothing to be afraid of.
“If anything, graduation is a compliment to the country.”.
SOURCE: COOK ISLANDS NEWS/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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