Pacific strive for genuine and enduring partnerships: Forum Chair Brown

Forum Chair Mark Brown (centre) in Seoul, South Korea.

The Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and Cook Islands Prime Minister has told the Korea – Pacific Islands Summit Monday the region wants to work with partners that have genuine interest in the Pacific.

In his opening remarks at the Blue House in Korea’s capital Seoul, Brown said as Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum, they strongly value their close partnership and engagement with the Republic of Korea which is a long-standing and important Dialogue Partner to the Forum, and crucial development partner to the region.

“For far too often now, we have to contend with partners determining for us the priorities that are most important to us. This era is now over. 

“If you want to work in our region, you need to work with us so that your efforts complement and strengthen ongoing efforts at the national and regional level.

“This sentiment is at the heart of our region’s collective vision as espoused in the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. The Strategy will ensure that we secure and sustain peace and stability in our region, and that we engage as one region,” Forum Chair Brown told leaders at the Summit in Seoul.

He said their meeting Monday is an opportunity to strengthen their understanding of their common priorities and issues of importance to our region and indeed, our world.

“The elevation of our dialogue to a Summit level demonstrates significant progress in the Korea-Pacific Islands cooperation and the political commitment by Leaders to further promote friendly relations between Korea and the Pacific Islands Forum for a free, peaceful and prosperous Pacific region.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war has shown us, regional and inter-regional cooperation is essential if we are to build a safe, secure, and prosperous world.

“Let us ensure this Summit progresses our important partnership and ultimately builds the resilience, sustainability, peace, and prosperity of our region,” said Brown.

PM Brown said the challenges ahead as a region are vast and complex. 

“We can only overcome them with the support of partners such as the Republic of Korea.

“We welcome the opportunity to participate and meaningfully engage in today’s Summit in order to strengthen our engagement and cooperation on areas of mutual interest including climate change and disaster risk and resilience, ocean governance, maritime affairs and fisheries, people-to-people exchange and sustainable economic development.

“In pursuing our ambitions as the Blue Pacific, we strive for genuine and enduring partnerships, in the spirit of our Blue Pacific Principles for Dialogue and Engagement and that recognises and support the collective strength, voice, and priorities of our Pacific region,” said PM Brown.

South President Yoon Suk Yeol hosted the Asian nation’s first summit with leaders of Pacific islands on Monday, as Seoul seeks to ramp up its influence in the region.

Yoon Suk Yeo in his opening remarks said the Pacific Islands Forum is a key partner in the Indo-Pacific strategy of Republic of Korea. 

“The summit today will mark a new beginning of cooperation between South Korea and the Pacific islands. We hope that Korea and the Pacific Islands cooperation, which are neighbours who are in the same boat in the vast sea of the Pacific Ocean, will sail vigorously for joint prosperity. 

“We have developed friendly and mature relations for more than half a century, sharing the universal values of freedom, human rights and the rule of law and a vision of peaceful democracy,” said President Yoon.

The South Korea’s Indo-Pacific strategy launched last year, President Yoon declared strong will to contribute to peace and prosperity in the international community under the principles of inclusion, trust and reciprocity. 

“Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum announced the 2050 Blue Pacific Continental Strategy as a long-term development strategy for the PIF at the PIF Summit in July last year. This strategy, which aims to build a peaceful, safe and prosperous Pacific region, is in line with our humanitarian strategy. 

“I would like to work together with the leaders here to pursue a win-win partnership between PIF and Korea,” President Yoon stressed to leaders.

He said climate change, natural disasters, food, health, and marine fisheries crises, which are directly linked to the survival and prosperity of the Pacific Islands countries, can only be overcome through solidarity and cooperation. 

“I will continue to deepen cooperation, firmly supporting the role of the Pacific Islands Forum and one Blue Pacific principle that values the partnership of all Member States,” President Yoon emphasised. “The Republic of Korea will establish a sustainable cooperative relationship based on mutual respect and trust with all countries, including the countries of Pacific Islands Forum, and make a responsible contribution to the international community,” President Yoon told Pacific Leaders at the Summit.