Posts tagged Melanesian

PM Bainimarama Address at MSG Chair Hand-Over Ceremony

This evening marks a significant milestone for the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), because we are gathered not only to hand-over its chairmanship, but to celebrate its twenty-five years as a leading regional group.

For a quarter-century, the MSG has provided an opportune forum for our nations to forge closer political, economic and social ties, to search for areas of common interest, and to find ways to mutually improve the lives of our peoples.

Tonight, as we pause to reflect on the MSG’s short but impressive history, we should have a deep pride in what we’ve already accomplished.

As a result of our shared vision for closer regional integration, MSG solidarity has never been stronger. Together, we are restructuring the Pacific landscape to better suit the needs, demands and aspirations of our peoples.

When Fiji assumed the MSG chairmanship just over two (2) years ago, our focus was on channeling the bonds of Melanesian solidarity into concrete policy developments.

Thanks to the strong support of all member nations, we were able to celebrate a number of significant achievements. Tonight, we are turning over the chairmanship of an organisation that has grown stronger, that has carved out a firmer regional and international presence, and that has a clearer vision and roadmap for the future.

On the economic front, inter-MSG trade is on the rise. As a group, we have re-affirmed our commitment to a bold vision: a single market and economic union to allow for the free movement of goods, services, labour and capital.

We have already made much progress in this direction. Meaningful steps have been taken towards the full implementation of the MSG Trade Agreement with the ongoing removal of tariffs for trade between our nations.

And the MSG Skills Movement Scheme will now provide for the free movement of skilled personnel within the region.

I’m also pleased to note that our Trade Ministers, in their historic inaugural meeting just a few weeks ago, recently endorsed a revised draft of the MSG Trade Agreement that provides the basis for a deeper integration beyond goods, into services, investments and the temporary movement of labour. I’m personally very excited by the potential this has for our economies and for our peoples.

Since trade in goods and services and investment is crucial for our economic development and improvement in the living standards of our peoples, I believe it is critical that the MSG Trade Ministers’ forum is institutionalized and that this forum reports directly to the MSG leaders on a regular basis.

These two years have also seen advancements on a number of other fronts. Notable achievements have been made in the areas of customs cooperation, biosecurity, fisheries, and cultural preservation.

We have committed to regional co-operation and collaboration between our law enforcement agencies to tackle transnational crimes.

A Department of Peacekeeping Operations has been set up at the MSG Secretariat to help establish a MSG Peacekeeping Unit for peacekeeping missions.

And with the clear and present threat of climate change, we have committed ourselves to safeguarding our environment and the people who depended on it for their livelihoods. I note that a Melanesian Green Climate Fund is being considered, to finance regional environmental initiatives.

However, we must also acknowledge that there are still many challenges to overcome and much yet to accomplish.

I encourage you to carefully consider the report prepared by the MSG Eminent Persons Group that will be presented to us during this Summit.

In this context we need to be realistic, innovative and future focused.

Distinguished Colleagues,

I am confident that we will be in very good hands as the MSG chairmanship passes to Front de Liberation Nationale Kanake et Socialiste (FLNKS) of Kanaky or New Caledonia.

This comes at a crucial moment in the history of the Kanak people. They are in the midst of charting the course for self-determination, decolonisation, and independence.

This ceremony is taking place in the Tjibaou Cultural Centre – a venue named after one of the preeminent leaders of Kanak political emancipation.

And today, we, the MSG, re-affirm our support for the FLNKS and their political aspirations.

Distinguished Colleagues,

Before I finish, I would like to thank you all – on behalf of the Fijian people and Government – for your support over the past two years.

I would like to acknowledge and thank the many government officials whose tireless efforts have driven significant progress.

I also wish to extend my sincere gratitude to the MSG’s regional and international partners, most of whom are present at this Summit, for their support and generosity.

And of course, our success would not have been possible without the dedication of the Director General and the MSG Secretariat staff. As always, your support has been invaluable. I call on all member states to continue support to our Secretariat.

Distinguished Colleagues,

With those words, it is now my great pleasure and privilege to officially hand-over the Chairmanship of the MSG to the Front de Liberation Nationale Kanake et Socialiste (FLNKS) of Kanaky.  I wish them well in their tenure.

Vinaka Vakalevu. Thank you. Merci Beaucoup. Oleti.


Fijian Prime Minister and outgoing chair for the Melanesian Spearhead Group, Voreqe Bainimarama has today emphasized on the need to keep Melanesian cultures and traditions alive.

The MSG leaders were today given a traditional welcome by the FLNKS ahead of the 19th MSG leaders summit.

FLNKS traditional leaders presented gifts and clothes including traditional wood carvings to MSG leaders at the Customary Senate in Noumea to show appreciation for hosting the leaders summit.

PM Bainimarama who was chief guest at the event thanked the traditional leaders of New Caledonia for keeping their traditions alive.

“This indicates to me that our rich Melanesian cultures and tradition has been sustained through generations and provides the cohesiveness that holds our people together,” PM Bainimarama said.

“It is both a privilege and an honour for me personally and I speak on behalf of all the delegates here today, that you have allowed us to share in your distinct and special kanaky cultural heritage by according us this customary welcome.”

PM Bainimarama highlighted that the culture and tradition of Melanesians is what sets it apart from the rest of the world.

He added that work is currently being undertaken by the MSG to protect and preserve traditional knowledge of Melanesia.

“The MSG has developed initiatives under the treaty for the protection of traditional knowledge and expressions of culture to put in place measures that will protect and conserve our cultures and traditions whether it be expressions through folklore, song and dance, knowledge, art or flora and fauna,” PM Bainimarama said.

The head of government stressed the need to impart traditional knowledge to the younger generations in order for Melanesian cultures and traditions to thrive.

“The onus is on us to ensure its sustainability and the future generations will be able to proclaim that they still have a distinct culture and tradition,” PM Bainimarama said.

“Elders must impart traditional knowledge to your people and younger people should hear and keep it deep in your hearts.”

“I emphasis here that traditional knowledge is intellectual property and one that cannot be learnt at an institution,” he added.

PM Bainimarama said the Melanesian Arts Festivals and other national initiatives has been designed with culture and tradition in mind.

“The Melanesian Arts Festivals and other initiatives are to capture cultural information. It is where traditional knowledge is acknowledged and encouraged,” PM Bainimarama said.

“We now have technology to do this and must full utilize this to our benefit so that our rich culture and tradition remains alive for many generations to come.”