DISCOURS

TAHITI

 

47th PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM

Pohnpei – Federated States of Micronesia

(7 – 11 September 2015)

 

Your Excellency Peter CHRISTIAN, President of the Federated States of Micronesia

Honourable Prime Ministers and distinguished Leaders,

Mrs Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor,

Distinguished Delegates,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My Dear Friends,

 

Ia Orana e Manava, menseng  mwahu

On behalf of my government and the people of Tahiti, I would like to express our sincere thanks and appreciation for the warm welcome and your hospitality accorded to us by the authorities of the Federated States of Micronesia, in the true Pacific way, on the occasion of this 47th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Summit.

Thank you to the incoming Chair : His Excellency : President Peter CHRISTIAN, for hosting this year’s 47th Pacific Forum.

However, I also wish to express my gratitude to the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, the Honorable Mister Peter O’NEILL for his leadership and support since September 2015.

The theme of this 47th Pacific Island Forum is : “Small and Far : Challenge for Growth”

The small size of my island is equally an advantage and a disadvantage due to its remoteness, geographically speaking : let me give you a glance of how far we are from the rest of the world

Total land area : 3 500 square Km

Versus Economic Ocean Area : 5.500 000 square km

Number of islands : 118,  78 of them are inhabited with 50 airports

At 31 December 2015, 272 800 people living in French Polynesia

Density of population : 77,7

 

Distance by air from Tahiti

Honolulu :  5 hours flight

Los Angeles  :  8 hours flight

Tokyo : 12 hours flight

Nouméa :4,30 hours flight

Auckland : 5 hours flight

Santiago/Chile :   approximately 9 hours flight with a stop-over in Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

Finally, Paris : 23 hours of flight time with a stop-over in Los Angeles

 

As we are all aware, we face and share common social-economic issues such as natural resource’s dependence (agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism) susceptible to variations and depending on the international trade trends, on the top of theses hurdles, the absence of economy of scales and high cost of transport and telecommunications.

For this reason, we have been working since February of this year on a common cable project with the support of the New-Zealand government and the close cooperation with the Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau and eventually Samoa. Let me assure you I am ready to go ahead as soon as I have received the green light from the technical team of MFAT New-Zealand and OPT Papeete.

Today, our priority is how to protect our population from the threats of climate change and the rise of our Ocean which surrounds our Island nations. Our small islands states are the front line. However, I must confess that the Ocean has not received the attention that it should have received from all of us, leaders from the great Pacific Ocean.

 

We arethe people of large oceanic state and we owe our very existence to this Ocean. It is our utmost responsibility to look after it. For this generation and the generations to come.

 

Just a few days ago in Honolulu, during the IUCN meetings, we have discussed this important subject. And I have emphasized the idea that my government has been managing since 1971 marines protected areas and our 5millions square kilometers EEZ has been the world’s biggest sanctuary for whales, turtles and sharks since 2002.

 

In respect to our ancestral culture and environment, our sustainable fisheries have become a model of managing common resources in the region since the late 1990’s. As a young minister of fisheries, I purposely refused to sign any fisheries agreements with foreign fleets. This also meant that Purse Seiner Fishing was and is still totally banned from our EE Zone. This was a hard decision to take since it represented a financial contribution just over US$ 3 millions. We took this decision to protect our fish stock because we wanted to keep this resource for our own People. However, I am also aware that everyone cannot comply with such regulations. And I respect your decision.

 

Dear Friends, Oceans have no boundaries and we should be in the front line to protect this Ocean and its maritime resources whether it be our fish stock or other important marine resources such as deep sea minerals …etc…

 

Just to complete this chapter on the Ocean, last Sunday, in Honolulu, I was pleased to launch the Year of the Ocean with Fiji, my good friend the former President of Kiribati Mr Anote Tong and the Ambassador of Sweden Mr. Jan Olsson, since Sweden is the co-host country with Fiji for the United Nations Conference on Oceans in June 2017. And Tahiti totally supports this ambitious project with Fiji.

 

Following our common plea at PICL at East-West Center, I want to thank The United States of America and China for ratifying the Paris Agreement on climate change. It is a real victory for our islander’s voice since the Pacific Countries represent 1.08 % emission when we know that the US represent 17,9% and China more than 20% , together nearly 40% of the emission. And this happened due to our common voice expressed in unity to the US power in Honolulu through President Obama.

 

In Tahiti, Blue economy means sustainability and equitable sharing of benefits for the development and management of the ocean and coasts. In 2015, maritime economy accounts for 8 percent of jobs and just over 7 percent of the country's revenue, so there is still good potential for growth.

This explain our firm commitment to the Ocean, that helped us carry our voices with the support of the Polynesian Leaders’ Group on the Taputapuatea Declaration on Climate Change , and recently on June 28th , the Declaration on the Oceans : named  “Te Moana o Hiva”.

 

I have another item I wish to share with you. It’s the health issue which has become a real concern for most leaders since we have the responsibility to provide health solution to our community. I wish to endorse the Nukualofa Declaration on NCD’s. I also believe that we should address the health issue on diabetis and the overweight factor which often triggers side effects such as acute heart diseases.

Our common destiny is in Oceania. We need to work together towards a common goal inspite of our differences to protect our common mother Ocean : “ Te Moana  Nui o Hiva”. I suggest it is high time to play not only with 16 players but as a full team of 19. And the best and most efficient tool to reach our goal is through the Pacific Islands Forum.

I am pleased to note that during the Forum Foreign Ministers meeting, on August 12 in Suva, they noted that Associate members had demonstrated their commitments to strengthening regional cooperation in the Pacific, including under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism. And they have considered the draft criteria for forum membership to be too restrictive and recommended that a revised statement on membership criteria should be submitted for Leaders’ approval here in Pohnpei.

 

They also acknowledged that having a unified Pacific voice at international gatherings would further develop opportunities for the greater good of the region.

The Framework calls for regional political solidarity and ambition, and it requires the innovation and the Inclusion of the diversity of voice of the people of the Pacific.

Last night, I had a dream and I saw all those familiar pacific faces beckoning me … Tagaloa e a komo Mai … Come home. And I suddenly woke up … and a voice whispered in my ears : this is the time, We can do it.

Honourable Leaders, you cannot avoid the fact it is now the time for you to give your honest opinion. It is your prerogative and your responsibility to make this political decision and I am certain that your wisdom will prevail. 

Honourable Leaders, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen I thank you for your attention.

 

Mauru’uru roa e Ia Orana.

 

Kalahngan lap

Gouvernement Fritch sept. 2014 - jan. 2017

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