Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Economic Ministers meeting begins in Suva, followed by the Leader's Summit later in the week. The MSG Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) which began over the last few days, had met, to discuss key points of cooperation; as reported by Solomon Star (S.S) article.
The excerpt of S.S article:
Senior Officials from the five members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group met key cooperation issues to be presented to the Foreign Ministers Meeting this week.
Chair of the MSG Senior Officials Meeting (SOM), Mrs Saipora W. Mataikabara thanked delegates from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, FLNKS and Fiji for their contribution and cooperation on addressing these key issues of common interest at the two-day meeting.On the first day, SOM endorsed among other issues the Director General’s Report to the Leaders, Secretariat papers on MSG Properties, Corporate Planning Process and the MSG Secretariat Soft Reforms. SOM Chair confirmed that the Secretariat papers were to strengthen the organization’s administration arm of the MSG organization.
Mrs Mataikabara said on the second day of meeting the other reports presented to SOM were all endorsed. She said the members’ endorsements reflected the common interests of the MSG in strengthening cooperation amongst member countries in particularly on cultural cooperation for instance the endorsement of the draft MSG MOU on Cultural Cooperation presented by the MSG Council of Arts & Culture. She said other issues that will promote more cooperation between member countries include the preparation for the first Melanesian Games in 2013 as mandated by Leaders on 31st March 2011 was also endorsed by the Senior Officials Meeting today.
Mrs Mataikabara said the Special SOM was also able to endorse key recommendations presented by the Subcommittee on Institutional Issues (SCLII) to complete discussions on the Review of the Agreement Establishing the MSG.
SOM Chair said legal and institutional issues are backbones of MSG as an organization and that is why members felt that careful consideration on the legal and institutional issues will help guide senior officials, foreign ministers and leaders in making sound decisions to strengthen the organization. A key recommendation that was endorsed by SOM is that SCLII meet in July to further complete important discussions on the Review of the Agreement Establishing the MSG, Reporting Requirements, Membership Issues (Observers & Associate Members) and MSG Visa Arrangements.
Reports from the different subcommittees and technical committees such as Security, Trade and Economic Officials Meeting (TEOM), and the Police Commissioners’ Conference were also endorsed. The draft MOU for the MSG Skills Movement Scheme and the MSG Trade Agreement on Rules of Origin and principles for enhancing fiscal management in Melanesia were all endorsed this special SOM.
Mrs Mataikabara thanked all delegates for their participation and cooperation in the pre-Summit SOM and confirmed that the SOM outcomes will be presented to the Foreign Ministers Meeting for their consideration this week.
Fiji Times article, quoted from MSG Director General, Peter Forau, who alluded to the absence of "power play" within the MSG; in comparison to the regular undue influence from larger metropolitan countries, in the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). Mr Forau highlighted the growing influence of the MSG, which could over shadow the PIF.
Excerpt of Fiji Times article:
No 'power play'Elenoa Baselala
Monday, March 26, 2012
"This should have happened long time ago," MSG director general and former Pacific Islands Secretariat deputy secretary general Peter Forau said.
In an interview with The Fiji Times, Mr Forau who has been on the job for the past six months said the MSG, made-up of the five big economies in the South Pacific region Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands had great potential to become influential.
In fact, Mr Forau said the MSG trade agreement was the only trade agreement that was working with the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement "all over the place".
And while, many see the MSG as a threat to regional unity, Mr Forau said this was not the intention of the MSG.
Mr Forau said unlike PIFS, the MSG members had equal rights and there was not much "power play" or influence from bigger countries.
"If the MSG is seen as a threat that is not our intention, we are just working in the best interests of our members.
"If we are to become influential that is the natural cause of things," Mr Forau said.In a Fiji Village (FV) article, Forau also addressed the need for the MSG countries to bring the benefits to their citizens.
Mr Forau, however cautioned, that for the MSG to grow to greater heights it must be united.
And they must do things to international standards to be recognised globally.
"Things are starting to happen. There are a lot of opportunities," he added.
The MSG Foreign Economic Ministers meeting starts today and ends tomorrow. The Leaders Summit will follow on Thursday and Friday.
Excerpt of FV article:
MSG issues to benefit citizens- Forau
Publish date/time: 26/03/2012 [11:21]
The Melanesian Spearhead Group cooperation must bring gains for their citizens at the national level.
That was the message Director General for the MSG secretariat Peter Forau urged regional Foreign Affairs ministers at the opening of the meeting this morning in Suva.
The Foreign affairs ministers will consider political, trade, economic, social and Secretariat organizational issues of interest that have been endorsed by the senior officials last week.
The Foreign Ministers Meeting will then present to the Leaders' Summit to make decisions which will be implemented accordingly.
Forau has encouraged the ministers to discuss and think thoroughly on the issues put forward.
Leaders attending later this week include Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, spokesperson of the FLNKS Victor Tutugoro, PNG Foreign Affairs Minister Ano Pala, Prime Minister of Vanuatu Sato Kilman and Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Darcy Lilo
Fiji's Foreign affairs minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola officially opened the meeting at the GCC complex in Nasese.
Story by: Sofaia Koroitanoa
Fiji News footage (video below) of the recent discussions among MSG Trade officials.
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