Huge Progress In Bougainville Peace Process - Goff
Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
29 January 2001
GOFF SEES HUGE PROGRESS IN BOUGAINVILLE PEACE PROCESS
Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff has welcomed what he says is huge progress in the peace process between Papua New Guinea and Bougainville, especially after the worrying breakdown in talks late last year.
"While much work remains to be done, I am delighted that agreement has been reached between Bougainville representatives and the Papua New Guinea Minister of Bougainville Affairs, on some of the most difficult issues that have divided the two parties," said Mr Goff.
The two sides have agreed that a referendum on the island's political future should be held in the next ten to fifteen years and this may include the option of independence.
The Minister said, "This is a similar formula to that successfully used in New Caledonia to resolve a violent situation and to develop a mechanism for peacefully resolving the crisis."
Mr Goff noted one of the conditions of a referendum being held is the control and disposal of weapons. "The Government is committed to its pledge to help the process of the weapons hand-in. New Zealand personnel in the Peace Monitoring Group in Bouganville and financial support has been provided for in the Governments' Aid Programme."
"This outcome represents a very significant further step in restoration of peace and stability in Bougainville," said Mr Goff. "New Zealand has made a major contribution to the peace process, both by providing venues for talks among the various factions, and to providing personnel to the Peace Monitoring Group on Bougainville.