“We are stronger when we are together” Premier Tagelagi on the five Micronesian states leaving the Forum

Premier Tagelagi told BCN news in a statement that he hopes the issues around the withdrawal of the five Micronesian states from the Pacific islands Forum “can be resolved with time and dialogue amongst the Pacific countries.”

He says “We are strongest when we are together. However, I acknowledge the fact that Micronesian Countries are free to make their choices, I just hope that that they are not too hasty in making such a decision for their people and our region.”

“I am saddened by what is happening. It is unfortunate that we are unable to meet face to face as leaders to discuss and make decisions on important matters for the Pacific Islands Forum”.

Tagelagi also wanted to “Express my appreciation to the outgoing Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor for her leadership in Pacific regionalism and her contribution to the Blue Pacific during her tenure”.

In a statement yesterday Premier Dalton Tagelagi said that the Leaders Retreat last week was an opportunity to collectively discuss and strengthen regional approached to address the impacts of COVID 19.

The heads of governments from the Pacific Forum countries met virtually in a marathon session which went on until 2 am to select the next Secretary-General of the Forum which came down to a vote for the former Cook Islands PM Henry Puna with nine votes and eight votes for Micronesian diplomat to the USA, Gerald Zackios.

Premier Tagelagi congratulated Hon. Henry Puna of the Cook Islands on his appointment as the incoming Secretary-General of the Forum. “His (Mr. Puna) wealth of experience and knowledge of the Pacific island matters and issues will be a massive benefit for the region.”

The appointment of the new Secretary General Puna though is marred by the withdrawal of five Micronesian countries of Nauru, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia from the Forum.

The Micronesian leaders felt that the Forum leaders failed to honour the gentleman’s agreement that it was their turn, for a Micronesian candidate to lead the regional organisation.

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