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HON. RATU INOKE KUBUABOLA – SPEECH AT THE ASIAN AFRICAN COMMEMORATION CONFERENCE

TATEMENT BY THE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, HON. RATU INOKE KUBUABOLA
‘THE ASIAN AFRICAN COMMEMORATION CONFERENCE’
THEME: ‘ADVANCING SOUTH-SOUTH COOPERATION’
JAKARTA AND BANDUNG, 19-25 APRIL, 2015

Your Excellency Madam Co Chairs
Distinguished Ministers
Ladies and Gentlemen

My delegation has been overwhelmed by the warm welcome and hospitality accorded to us so far and we are indeed grateful. We applaud the Government of Indonesia for the excellent arrangements befitting such a momentous ocassion.

The foresight and wisdom of the leaders of Asia and Africa that began this journey 60 years ago can only be applauded and saluted to say the least. Their commitment, hopes and aspirations as enshrined in the Bandung declaration in our view was well placed in light of its relevance to our present time. This was more than reinforced 10 years ago with the institution of the New Asia Africa Strategic Partnership (NAASP). Solidarity, friendship and cooperation are needed more today than ever before with the many and varied forms of global challenges that humanity the world over is faced with. And we are grateful to the Government of Indonesia for the initiative and leadership in maintaining a watching brief so to speak and expending the necessary effort to keep the Bandung flame and spirit alive.

Fiji and indeed our neighbours from the Pacific region are fortunate to have been included as the Pacific islands developing states into the fold of the Asian cooperation framework.

The global challenges we face know no boarder and worse still the man-made ones have shown the worst and darker side of humanity in the senseless killing of innocent lives as we now see in the many parts of world today. We all need to come together irrespective of our sizes and strength. The UN systems are working overtime to scurry for solutions. The UN can be assisted to some degree as the Asian-African forum advance its south-south cooperation to address the socio-economic and cultural components of a world in need.

The fact that we are part of the conference, I should like to think, also speaks volumes of the high regard with which we are considered and treated: not as small island states in anyone’s backyard but as sovereign states and neighbours with which mutual benefits can be optimised through non-discriminatory development practices for which the south-south cooperation program is a fitting and relevant tool.

Fiji has benefited greatly from Indonesia’s south-south cooperation program and i take this opportunity to convey to the Government and people of Indonesia our profound gratitude. Not only have our people and institutions gained through capacity building and technical assistance programs, we have also taken a leaf or two from Indonesia’s example and together with support organisations like JICA in the south south triangular cooperation modality have established our own programs to reach out to our neighbouring island countries in fields like education for example. We firmly believe that our solidarity and belief in the spirit and letter of the Bandung declaration and strategised in the New Asia African Strategic Partnership is best served when we stand by and assist each other in practical ways based on our areas of strengths.

Building upon regional and sub-regional initiatives to promote sustainable partnerships is a practical starting point in our view to advance south-south cooperation. In that regard building synergies between the Pacific institutions like the Melanesian Spearhead Group,the Pacific Island Development Forum and the University of the South Pacific, to name a few, would be steps in the right direction.

Connectivity is no doubt an essential element for the enhancement of people-to-people links and the flow of good and services. Whilst this may present a challenge now in as far as the pacific and Asia connection is concerned, the building blocks to justify serious pursuit in both shipping and air connection is already being laid in Indonesia’s maritime axis as mentioned before for optimisation.

The Pacific Island Development Forum is another opportunity through which south-south cooperation can be made effectual. As the only regional body in the pacific that brings together governments, the private sector and civil society to deliver for the pacific peoples, it is unique at least as a cooperation forum. Indonesia has taken the lead to engage with the PIDF and no doubt the rest of the Asian states could follow suit to spread the gains of their progress to their less and least developed neighbours in the Pacific.

Fiji stands ready to play whatever role she can to further advance south-south cooperation between Asia, Africa and the Pacific.

With those remarks madam chair my delegation wishes to endorse the paper before us as recommended by our senior officials based on the good work of our permanent representatives in new york and we thank all of them.

Thank you Madam co Chairs.

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