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Don't capitulate on Forum Secretary-General: PCRC

13 June 2002

Don't capitulate on Forum Secretary-General: PCRC

The Pacific Concerns Resource Centre says the sentiments of Pacific Islands Forum Secretary-General Noel Levi that the appointment of an Australian to the post could threaten the future of the 32-year-old organization is a sentiment shared by Pacific Islanders.

PCRC Director Motarilavoa Hilda Lini said when the Forum was being formed in 1971, there was opposition from most of our island leaders to the inclusion of Australia and New Zealand, on the basis that they did not really share our problems, our Pacific way of thinking, and that they could dominate discussions to the jeopardy of the islands.

"Australia's influence in the Forum up to now has severely weakened the position of island countries on political and environmental issues such as a nuclear free zone, climate change, West Papua and plutonium shipments. Now Australia is trying to turn the Forum into its own little institution," Ms. Lini said.

Ms Lini said: "Australia has consistently undermined regional solidarity to its own advantage and promoted regionalism only when it suits their agenda. The appointment of an Australian to lead the secretariat would therefore go against the thinking of Pacific peoples."

"They have undermined and weakened us enough, and our leaders must make a stand," Ms. Lini said.

For more information please contact Motarilavoa Hilda Lini or Stanley Simpson on Phone:

(679) 3304 649 e-mail: pcrc@is.com.fj

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