Chair of Pacific Islands Forum Examines Implications of Micronesian Countries Withdrawal

The Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, says he is saddened by the recent decision of the Micronesian Presidents’ Summit to initiate their withdrawal from the Pacific Islands Forum family. Tuvalu Prime Minister Kausea Natano says the Forum Family will not be complete without its Micronesian brothers and sisters. Mr Natano acknowledges the decision will impact Pacific regionalism and collective action in and on behalf of the Blue Pacific continent.

It will distract from the progress that we have made as a region on global climate advocacy on climate ambition, regional security, economic growth, and ocean governance.Chair of Pacific Islands Forum, Tuvalu Prime Minister, Kausea Natano

A statement issued by the President of the Federated States of Micronesia, David W. Panuelo, on February 8 outlined the commitment with Presidents of Palau, Marshall Islands, Nauru, and Kiribati to initiate a formal Article XII  process of withdrawal from the Pacific Islands Forum.

President Panuelo and Presidents of the Micronesian Presidents’ Summit (MPS) expressed great disappointment with the appointment process for the position of Secretary General within the Pacific Islands Forum. President Panuelo expressed frustration at how several Pacific leaders suggested the Gentlemen’s Agreement doesn’t exist, or that they’ve never heard of it.

President Panuelo and the other Presidents of the MPS expressed unity and solidarity within the Micronesian subregion, and reaffirmed that their position remains in accordance with the Micronesian Presidents’ Special Leader’s Meeting Mekreos Communique 2020.

There is no value in participating in an organization that does not respect established agreements, including the gentleman’s agreement on sub-regional rotation.Micronesian Presidents' February 2021 Communique

Chair of Pacific Islands Forum, Mr Natano stated that if there remains any possibility of a resolution to this impasse, he hopes that it can be explored in the name of regional unity and solidarity particularly given the challenges of climate change and COVID-19.

For the sake of our Pacific people, we should remain open to all opportunities for talanoa or dialogue as has always been the Pacific Way.Chair of Pacific Islands Forum, Tuvalu Prime Minister, Kausea Natano

Former Cook Islands Prime Minister and newly elected Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Henry Puna is set to take up the role in April.

Image: Pacific Islands Forum flag