Pacific diplomats propose a Summit of Pacific Leaders with their counterparts in Europe next year

Pacific Islands News Association:

Friday, 27 June 2014

To lift the profile of Pacific Island Countries in Europe, Pacific diplomats in Brussels are proposing a Summit of Pacific Leaders with their counterparts in Europe next year.

Samoa’s Ambassador Pao Luteru and his Vanuatu counterpart in Brussels, Ambassador Roy Mickey Joy are spearheading discussions to hold the first High Level Political meeting possibly next year.

“The rationale behind this proposal is to get our Leaders from the Pacific to meet their counterparts next year and put their cards on the table and discuss what should come to the Pacific, Ambassador Roy revealed to PACNEWS in Port Vila.

He said Pacific Ambassadors in Brussels have watched with great interest what is happening in Europe and the growing interest that the Europe Union is placing on relations with African and Caribbean nations.

“With the effective leadership of Ambassador Pao Luteru of Samoa, he has put together a dossier which he will present to the next annual summit of Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in Palau in August this year. He will be seeking the decision of Pacific Leaders to have a high level Summit with the Leaders in Europe.

“We have seen how the Caribbean and the African Leaders have held annual summits with the European Leaders while the Pacific has never organized any kind of high level meeting. That is why we have always been left at the far end of the market chain and only have access to bread crumbs while the real dollar goes to these big countries, said Ambassador Joy.

He said it’s high time because the current Cotonou Agreement, which forms the basis of African, Caribbean and Pacific -EU relations, comes to an end in 2020.

“Beginning 2015, we only five years and the future of the ACP Group is not yet clear. What needs to be done is that we have only five years to be able to extract enough money that needs to come to our region. It’s an opportunity not to be missed by our Ministers and Leaders.

“We are looking forward to the response of Pacific Leaders when my colleague from Samoa will present this proposal to them for endorsement, said Ambassador Joy.

Maintaining visibility for the Pacific in Europe is a challenge. For Vanuatu, its next project will be to organise a regional conference on kava, as a follow-up to the decision in Germany on the lifting the kava ban this month, said the Vanuatu diplomat.

“We have already submitted a huge proposal to the ACP-EU to finance the convening of the Kava Ministerial meeting with the objective of re-strategising the way forward for kava and set down a road map that would take the kava exports and kava development to the next phase.

“The issue of three billion that has been lost raised by my Minister Sato Kilman in Nairobi last week is mind boggling. The European Union and other ACP countries heard first-hand how a decision in Germany has had a huge dent on the economies of small island countries in the Pacific like Vanuatu, Ambassador Joy told PACNEWS.

He is in Port Vila for the three-day Pacific-EU Business Forum, which ends Friday. 

Read story: Pacific Islands News Association

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