|ISLAND TIMES/PACNEWS – 06:10 am GMT+12, 23/10/2020, Fiji|
Majority of the members of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) prefer to set the virtual meeting next month and among the issues to be discussed is the selection of the next Secretary General of the PIF Secretariat.
The selection of the new Secretary General is a contentious issue for Micronesia, following the threat from five leaders — from Palau, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) — that they will leave the forum if the next leader of the PIFS would not come from their region.
In a press conference last week, Tuvalu’s Foreign Minister Simon Kofe said that they consider Micronesia’s threat as very concerning.
“It’s something that the leaders will look into. We are certainly very concerned about the threat from the Micronesians to pull out from the Forum.” He told Pacific reporters during the press conference at the conclusion of the PIF Foreign Ministers Meeting.
He said the selection process will be discussed by the leaders.
“The process will be determined by the leaders. But in terms of dates, we are looking at November. The majority of members have expressed their preference for the first week of November.”
In early October, the Micronesian leaders said the other Pacific head of states should honor the long standing ‘gentleman’s agreement.
”If this agreement is not honored, then the presidents would see no benefit to remaining in the PIF,” they said in a communique issued after a meeting of the Micronesian Presidents’ Summit in Palau.
The threat is considered a major blow for the regionalism stance of the 18-member PIF, which is mostly made up of small island states, along with Australia and New Zealand.
Kofe said it is important for the Forum to maintain solidarity in the region.
SOURCE: ISLAND TIMES/PACNEWS