MSG marks 35 year anniversary

Photo: MSG Secretariat

The Director General of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) says the Secretariat is confident that under Kalsakau’s Chairmanship, “we can take our cooperative relationship in MSG to a higher level”.

The Secretariat marked its 35 year anniversary with an official ceremony in Port Vila on Tuesday.

Director General, Leonard Louma, welcomed the Vanuatu Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau and his entourage saying his presence was significant as he is also Chairman of the MSG, and Chief of the land on which the Secretariat sits.

Vanuatu, he said, has been a leader, in its own right, within the MSG.

“Under your leadership and Chairmanship, I know that the “spearhead” in the MSG spear will be sharpened again to defend and protect our interests. But more importantly, if needed, can be used to pierce through blockages in search of solutions to challenges that confront our membership,” he stated.

Vanuatu has proposed two ‘very noble initiatives’ that fall in the same ‘pedigree’ of difficult issues – the ICJ initiative on climate change responsibility and the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Fossil Fuels, he added.

He said the MSG will do whatever it can to assist its members and support such initiatives.

Prime Minister Kalsakau in his address said at the time of MSG’s inception, many cynics were sceptical about our vision, relevance and cohesion as a group.

“Many political observers derided our sub-regional efforts in cooperation as divisive and destructive to regional cooperation. We have proven the cynics and sceptics wrong,” he stated.

The Prime Minister assured that MSG is still viable and “we are still forging ahead with the pursuit of our social, political, economic and security interests underscoring our resoluteness, tenacity and resilience as Melanesian people.

“Sub-regionalism is no longer frowned upon but now regarded as a building block for stronger regional cooperation as exemplified in the PIF regional architecture changes incorporated in the Blue Ocean Continent. MSG sub-regionalism has been vindicated,” he said.

The Prime Minister also paid special tribute to past Leaders of the MSG for their unwavering commitment.

He said that while the MSG has achieved a lot like the successful inscription of New Caledonia on the decolonisation list in the United Nations, there is still much to do.

“MSG is the largest grouping, by any measure, in the Pacific Islands Forum family. We must assert a leadership role in the region and “spearhead” initiatives as our name suggests,” he said.

He stated that during his tenure as Chairman, he wants the Secretariat to bring to a closure many of the outstanding issues including the operationalisation of the MSG Trade Agreement; promotion of the Skills Movement Scheme; and the required domestic legislation on the Traditional Knowledge and Expression of Culture to be enacted in the other MSG countries, among other issues.

“As we journey into the future, we must remain committed to stand in solidarity and in unity to forge meaningful pathways forward for the benefit of all our people and where no-one is left behind,” he said.