21 July 2022
Government of the Cook Islands
Te Kauono Tutara e te Mana Tiaki - Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Immigration
Cook Islands congratulate #TeamFIJI on successful 51stPIFLeaders; welcome 2050 strategy launch and look forward to assumption of Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum
In a statement delivered earlier today, Cook Islands Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration the Hon. Mark Brown has commended #TeamFIJI for a phenomenal hosting of the 51st Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meetings held in Suva last week, “To the Hon. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Prime Minister; the Government and people of Fiji – vinaka vaka levu. Thank you for your tireless and generous hosting efforts and warm bula hospitality that played an integral part in ensuring success as our Leaders gathered in person for the first time since Tuvalu, three years ago!”
Prime Minister Brown delivered his statement, together with Cook Islands Special Envoy to the Pacific Islands Forum who led the Cook Islands delegation to last week’s meetings, Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Immigration Tepaeru Herrmann. To view Prime Minister Brown’s statement, see https://mfai.gov.ck/news-updates/hon-mark-brown-prime-minister-and-minister-foreign-affairs-and-immigration-hosting
The theme chosen by Fiji for the 51st Forum – in the year of the 50th anniversary of the Forum is “Reflection, Renewal and Celebration” – a fitting and timely theme and one which served to deliver renewed Pacific unity and solidarity.
Amongst the key decisions taken by Leaders at their meeting last week was the launching of the “2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific https://www.forumsec.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/PIFS-2050-Strategy-WEB-11July2022.pdfThe launching of the 2050 Strategy reflects Leaders deep appreciation for the past while also signaling a bold challenge and new promise for the region’s future. The Strategy, which was consulted on widely in the Cook Islands and across each of the Forum nations over the last year and a half is about Pacific peoples – their future, shared values and talents. It is about our Pacific people who know their needs and potential; who plan and own their development agenda; and act collectively for the good of all within the Blue Pacific.
Prime Minister Brown, together with Leaders from Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and Special Envoy for the Marshall Islands were hosted by Prime Minister Bainimarama in Suva for the Pacific Islands Forum Political Dialogue Mechanism (PDM) Meeting last month, from 6-8 June, where a renewed consensus on unity and solidarity was agreed. That renewed consensus on unity and solidarity, signed by the 6 Leaders at the PDM meeting and called the “Suva Agreement” was endorsed and signed by the remaining Leaders at last week’s PIFLeaders, bar Kiribati. Amongst the elements of the Suva Agreement was for a sub-regional rotation for future appointments of Secretary-General’s of the PIF Secretariat and Deputy Secretary General positions and the appointment of a standalone Oceans Commissioner. The decision of Leaders taken last week captured in the Forum Communique can be viewed at https://www.forumsec.org/2022/07/17/report-communique-of-the-51st-pacific-islands-forum-leaders-meeting/
On Kiribati, Prime Minister Brown said “Through the continued leadership of Forum Chair Prime Minister Bainimarama, I look forward to continued dialogue with President Ma’amau of Kiribati in the days ahead, to collectively find a resolution to the impasse so we can once more fully embrace Kiribati within our Forum Family”.
At their Retreat last week, PIF Leaders confirmed the Cook Islands assumption of Forum Chair responsibilities and hosting of the 52nd PIF Leaders in 2023. See Cook Islands Television reporting of the hosting at https://www.facebook.com/cookislandstelevisionnews/videos/715191859557725/
Prime Minister Brown acknowledged the confidence of Forum Leaders in the Cook Islands hosting and chairing abilities saying “the decision to host the Forum Leaders meeting next year was not taken lightly and I am grateful to Tina Browne, Leader of the Opposition for providing her support for our hosting offer. To Chair and host the Forum is an honour and responsibility we welcome and stand ready to deliver. I don’t downplay the challenge of hosting, particularly given the trials of the last two years as a result of COVID-19 but just as we responded to COVID-19 positively, I am confident we will take on the responsibilities that come as Chair with the same determination to succeed and in the process, deliver beneficial outcomes for our people. We will also have the support of the Forum Troika – Fiji and Tonga – our Forum Secretariat – together with our development partners to assist with the cost of hosting”.
For Secretary Herrmann, the outcomes of last week’s Forum Leaders are a culmination of 5 decades sustained contributions by successive Cook Islands diplomats, senior officials and political leaders since the inception of the Forum in 1971. “The Cook Islands is a proud founding member of the Pacific Islands Forum. In fact, it was our first premier, the late Albert Henry who proposed in 1971, the need to create a political body for our newly independent Pacific nations, to complement our science and cultural organisation, SPC. Over last 50 years, the Cook islands, through the leadership and coordination of MFAI, has been an active participant in the work of the Forum, and all Pacific regional organisations including the Forum Fisheries Agency, SPC, the South Pacific Regional Environmental Program (SPREP), the University of the South Pacific (USP) and others. The Cook Islands have long recognized that we are stronger together and we’ve been a staunch advocate of Pacific unity, solidarity and ensuring in our collective efforts, the most vulnerable within our Forum family is supported. We have also long held to the importance of respecting each other’s evolving political and economic sovereignty.”
Off the back of two months international engagements by MFAI to French Polynesia, Fiji, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji last week under the leadership of the Prime Minister Brown, confirmation of incoming Chair and 2023 Forum hosting last week will bring additional responsibilities for MFAI. However, the Foreign Service look forward to the challenge and are confident, particularly with the opening of the Cook Islands High Commission to Fiji in Suva at the start of 2020, #TeamMFAI are up to task. “Amongst the decision of Leaders last week was the convening of a Special Forum Leaders Meeting within the last week of October to implement elements of the Suva Agreement,” said Secretary Herrmann. “In discussions with current Chair Fiji and the Forum Secretariat, it is at that Special Meeting that we would look to the Cook Islands assumption of the Forum Chair. In the meantime, we will continue to debrief the outcomes of last week’s meetings with a view to early engagement across the full spectrum of our communities and society to ensure our 2023 hosting of the Forum is a whole of nation affair that will allow us to showcase our Cook Islands hospitality and offering to our Pacific family and the world beyond and at the same time open up new opportunities and partnerships to support our economic recovery and social and cultural prosperity.”
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