The Fijian Government has encouraged fellow MSG member countries to carve their own niche in Pacific regionalism and extend their presence internationally.
On the eve of the handing over the chairmanship of the MSG Foreign Ministers Meeting (FMM) to FLNKS in New Caledonia this week, Fijian Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola (pictured above) called on the MSG members to continue working for the common goal of regional cooperation and integration.
“We have the potential to strengthen our relationship with other metropolitan powers to determine our destiny. MSG should not be too concerned about what others think of us. We must determine our common goals and cooperate in activities that enhance our cooperation and integration,” Ratu Inoke said.
Ratu Inoke said they had embraced the principles and spirit of dialogue, and consensus through the unique Melanesian culture, tradition and heritage in spearheading MSG’s shared interests.
“The collegial manner and stewardship in which we have conducted our business is a manifestation of the goodwill and respect within our membership. We can only build on this further.”
Highlighting some of the notable milestones under Fiji’s chairmanship over the past two years, the outgoing chair alluded to the signing of the MOU on Skills Movement Scheme by MSG leaders last year and also the MOU on Cultural Cooperation.
“The Skills Movement Scheme has been in force since 30th September 2012 and provides the impetus for the movement of skilled personnel between our members to fill skill shortages. I look forward to the SOM Chair’s report on the implementation of the Scheme and plans for achieving its intended objectives,” Ratu Inoke said.
“We have also entered into an MOU on Cultural Cooperation which has paved the way for members to assist each other in hosting regional cultural events including the promotion of our unique cultures through work attachments.”
To further strengthen ownership of traditional knowledge and expressions of culture, MSG Leaders had also signed a Framework Treaty on Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Culture.
“This is a milestone achievement. This Treaty protects our people from any possible misappropriation and abuse of their Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Culture,” Ratu Inoke said.
“As a Group, we must prevent unscrupulous individuals from violating the rights of owners of Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Culture under the pretext of scientific research or cultural exchanges.”
Ratu Inoke added that during Fiji’s chairmanship, the regions’ environment and climate change issues were also brought to the forefront.
“As the largest geographical areas amongst Pacific Islands, with a rich biodiversity and ecosystem, our climate change issues are unique and deserve special attention. The signing of the Environment and Climate Change Declaration by our Leaders is indicative of our common desire to elevate our climate change concerns to the international fora such as the UNFCCC, and embrace a Framework on Green Growth for our future development.”
He also highlighted the appointment of an Eminent Persons Group (EPG) to evaluate MSG’s past and determine its future direction.
“As we celebrate 25 years of our existence, our Leaders have seen it timely and appropriate to evaluate our past and determine our future direction. An Eminent Persons Group was appointed by Leaders to review our performance, consult our people, identify our competencies, determine our common objective interests, and use this to chart a new direction for our organization. I am excited of the proposals our Eminent Persons will be submitting for our consideration,” Ratu Inoke said.