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Despite Fiji’s continued absence at the annual Pacific Islands Forum Leaders (PIF) meetings, including this year’s 48th PIF meeting in Samoa, the Pacific Island nation has taken a positive step in its participation at the Forum’s ministerial level.
PIF Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor made the statement at the first day of the PINA/PIF Forum Regional Media Workshop at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) headquarters in Apia.
“Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama will not be attending the ministerial-level participation.
“What I’m pleased about is that Fiji’s ministerial level is back at the table and at the Foreign Ministers’ active participation and the delegations that now attend the ministerial at the secretariat,” said Dame Meg.
“The other one is at the Finance Ministers meeting where the Attorney General and the Finance Minister participated at the last meeting that we had this year at the Forum. He also participated in the panel discussion around the forum at USP.”
“The discussions between the Ministers and the Prime Minister about participation, well, I’m not a party to that, I don’t know; it’s the decision of the sovereign state. Fiji has played a very important role in the Oceans Conference. It will play an important role in the COP23 as we go ahead”.
Dame Meg whose first term as PIF SG will end in December said she would be very happy to see Bainimarama present at the meeting.
“I would’ve very much wished the Prime Minister would’ve been here to carry the flag with the Pacific. The Prime Minister will do it the way he wants to.
Asked about how she feels about Fiji’s continued absence at the 48th PIF meeting in Apia as head of the Fiji-based organisation, Dame Meg said she’s not going to be productive if she’s to concentrate only on this single issue.
“Yes we’re in Fiji and I applaud the hospitality of the government of Fiji. I’ve not been received by the Prime Minister, he’s been very cordial to me in public. If I dwell on that, then I’m not going to be productive”.
“I have a mandate from the Pacific leaders and I just have to keep working”.
For the past two years, as head of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), Secretary General, Dame Meg has managed to keep the regional organisation moving forward despite finding it very hard moving to Fiji in the early years.
“I’ve found moving to Fiji very hard because of the history of what happened before I arrived. You know I give tremendous credit to my predecessor for just holding it (PIF) together and I was not engrained in the politics of all that before I came so I arrived in Fiji and I have to say, I thought the warmth of the Pacific had gone. But it didn’t last long”.
“Civil society, particularly, Pacific Islands Association of Non-Government Organisations (PIANGO) and the Pacific Council of Churches really made feel welcome in building the relationship slowly with the Fiji Government and the Fiji Government making the decision to be involved in ministerial level.
“It’s a big step and I hope that trust will build over time," said Dame Meg.
SOURCE: RADIO KIRIBATI/PACNEWS
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