Solomon Fence-Mending Trip Ill-Concieved: Sogavare
Fence-Mending Trips Ill-Concieved: Sogavare
Leader of the Opposition Group in Parliament, Hon. Manasseh Sogavare has described Prime Minister Dr Derek Sikua‘s so-called ‘fence-mending’ trips to Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand as ill-conceived and hasty.
Dr Sikua has announced he will apologise to his Papua New Guinean counterpart, Sir Michael Somare for the non-attendance of his predecessor, Hon. Sogavare at the Pacific Islands forum summit last year and hold talks with his Australian and New Zealand counterparts to restore Solomon Islands relations with the two pacific powers.
But in a statement issued today, Hon. Sogavare said an apology to Sir Michael was unwarranted and Dr Sikua should instead discuss ways of improving the effectiveness of the Melanesian Spearhead Group with the Papua New Guinean Grand Chief.
“What Dr Sikua should instead discuss with his PNG counterpart ways to improve the effectiveness of the Melanesian Spearhead Group which was dormant and inactive due to the lack of seriousness to the objectives of the organization by member countries.
“The non-attendance of the forum meeting by the Solomon Islands Prime Minister last year was a sovereign decision that has nothing to do with our relationship with PNG and therefore Prime Minister Dr Sikua has nothing to apologise for.
“It would be ludicrous and irresponsible to say that Solomon Islands would not benefit from the multilateral assistance to the Forum because it did not attend the forum meeting last year or even to suggest that Solomon Islands must surrender its sovereignty to the dictates of the forum if it must benefit from the assistance from forum member countries.
“Forum member countries attend forum meetings or relate to the forum as sovereign governments and not as agents of political groupings as in the case of the Melanesian Spearhead Group countries,” Hon. Sogavare said.
In the case of Australia, the Leader of Opposition cautioned Prime Minister Sikua to be careful in his approach.
“A relationship is a two-way affair. It would be a serious mistake to surrender Solomon Islands position just for the sake of mending a relationship which Australia under the leadership of its Howard Government was directly responsible for its destruction.
“Australia must be taught to respect our laws and the sovereign rights of small Pacific Island countries and stop interfering in their domestic politics,” Hon. Sogavare said.
Hon. Sogavare said the Moti case which his former Grand Coalition for Change Government did not see eye-to-eye with the Australian Howard Government was a legal issue and it should be dealt with legally and not politically.
He said the former Australian government refused to accept the position of the former Solomon Islands government on the issue and it was unfortunate that the Australian government took advantage of the new puppet Solomon Islands government and hijacked the legal process in its execution of the deportation of the former Attorney General.
The Leader of Opposition said he would generally agree however that Australia’s new Rudd government had brought a new hope for small island states’ relationship with Australia because it was willing to discuss issues and appeared to be more understanding.
Hon. Sogavare said the Solomon Islands government should take advantage of this opening and clearly state Solomon Islands position on the issues.
As for the Prime Minister’s trip to New Zealand, the Leader of Opposition described it as totally unnecessary as Solomon Islands bilateral relationship with New Zealand was one of the healthiest in the region.
“Whilst it is important to nurture bilateral ties, national priorities need to be taken into consideration as opposed to a fence-mending visit where no fences had been broken.”