ISLAND TIMES – by Bernadette Carreon October 23, 2020
President Tommy Remengesau Jr. said it would make Micronesia a “joke” for the five Micronesian nations to remain with the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) if their turn to select the next Secretary General is not honored.
Responding to the question by Island Times on what will be the repercussions for Palau, Kiribati, Nauru, Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia if the nations stays in PIF despite lack of acceptance of its candidate, Remengesau said there is no longer value in being a part of the PIF.
“If we were to leave PIF, we would only strengthen north pacific and gain the respect and trust and understanding of the people that we are doing the right thing. If we do break away, we will continue to cooperate. If we stay we will be saying, it is ok to be bullied by larger countries because we are smaller nations with fewer populations,’ he said on Wednesday.
The leaders have threatened to withdraw from the PIF unless they get to choose the head of PIF Secretariat, and President Remengesau said all five nations are ready to walk away from the Forum.
“If there is no integrity in what is said within the PIF, then we leave, because there is no value in staying within an organization that looks down on us because we are smaller in populations.” Remengesau said.
The president reminded the forum leaders about the gentleman’s agreement which has been a long-standing commitment.
“There is a characteristic within the PIF of respect, respecting each other, a pacific way. One such way is the gentleman’s agreement to rotate the leadership of PIF amongst member nations. The leadership has rotated amongst members and now that it is Micronesia’s turn, others are coming up with their own candidates,” he said, Papua New Guinea’s Dame Meg Taylor has led the PIF since 2014 and her term will end this year, but due to COVID -19, PIF leaders are yet to meet regarding her replacement.
But Remengesau said the decision to withdraw from the Forum all hinges on a big “IF”.
He told reporters though that PNG has agreed to support Micronesia’s candidate- diplomat Gerald Zackios.
The president is still hopeful that the other leaders will support their candidate.