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Vanuatu's deputy prime minister Joe Natuman says the Pacific Islands Forum should consider establishing a regional security force or arrangements similar to that of the recent Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands.
RAMSI concluded a 14 year peace and state building mission in Solomon Islands last month that was hailed as a successful example of Pacific regionalism in action.
Natuman, who was one of the Pacific Islands Forum leaders who flew to Honiara to take part in the farewell celebrations for RAMSI spoke with Koroi Hawkins who began by asking about Vanuatu's participation in the mission.
JOE NATUMAN: Well we were very happy indeed to take part in the RAMSI mission because we realise that Solomon Islands at that time needed our help. Also of the fact that we ourselves in the past in the early days of our own intervention 1979 -1980 we had similar problems. We have similar kind of lawlessness, rebellion and secessionist movement in several of our islands and so we tried to seek the help from all of our friends and eventually the Papua New Guinea government assisted us sending PNG defence force, it was called kumul force. They came to Vanuatu in the 1980s just after independence where when we were in control after the British and French left when there was still rebellion in the islands and the PNG Defence Force helped us to restore law and order and bring back unity and peace so we thought we have a duty to do that.
KOROI HAWKINS: Solomon Islands now being able to stand on its own two feet or put in a position where it has to stand on its own two feet, how does that reflect on where Melanesia is as a region?
JN: Well I mean Melanesia has always been an area of turbulence, particularly due to our own diverse cultures and we have so many islands and PNG they have similar problems they will even had an attempted coup in PNG, we still have problem with Bougainville of course and in Vanuatu as I say we had problems and in Fiji we had problems also with coups, and of course New Caledonia is an uncertain issue, because come 2018 when the issue of the memorandum of understanding takes place, there is a big question as to whether there will be a peaceful resolution with the issues they are facing. And of course the issue of West Papua. But we are glad that the Solomons has finally come out of those problems and I think Melanesia will probably come back stronger as a block as MSG so that we can stand together to personally see off New Caledonia as they go thorough with their decolonisation process and then of course there is the outstanding issue with West Papua.
KH: Looking to the future, do you think missions like RAMSI, or programmes or missions like RAMSI, have a place for the region - not just Melanesian but the Pacific?
JN: Yes I think so and I think that leaders should be urged to take it up at the Forum level and because even we at MSG are discussing this and we have agreed to some kind of police arrangements which we have agreed to be set up in Suva and then the Fiji government is working on that but I think too the wider region should pick it up because it is important and there is a lot of things happening in the world and I think our region together with Australia and New Zealand should have some sort of system to fall back on in our time of need....
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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