Pacific leaders make important security agreement

Pacific nations will now consult each other before signing security deals to avoid a fiasco created when the Solomon Islands signed its security deal with China.

Leaders of the Pacific have agreed that while security is a sovereign right, discussions were needed because it had an overarching impact on the region.

It was not only the region that had started panicking but regional partners such as United States, Australia and Japan were up in arms.

The situation also led to increased attention into the region.

The Pacific leaders in their communique agreed that if security deals will affect the region, members will be consulted or informed.

Pacific nations will now consult each other before signing security deals to avoid a fiasco created when the Solomon Islands signed its security deal with China. Picture : Fijian Government

“Leaders reaffirmed the importance of utilising existing regional mechanisms, including the Pacific Islands Forum, for engagement with partners, especially where multiple Pacific Island Countries are concerned, whilst still being respectful of the sovereign right of countries to engage with partners as they consider appropriate,” the communique stated.

Pacific Islands Forum general secretary Henry Puna said leaders acknowledged that there are certain issues that have impact beyond national borders.

“And it is these issues that leaders are asking each member country to share with each other, when they decide to enter into arrangements that are exclusively within their national sovereignty.

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“Leaders have freely agreed that is the way to go. There are times when other issues out of the mix enter into consideration.

“For example the geopolitical interest into the region.  Most of our islands take the friend to all and enemy to none approach, and that is the best approach for us.

“You know we cannot afford to be enemies with anyone. There are opportunities to be had and there are advantages and that is acknowledged and there is no problems with that. However certain issues like security have a regional impact.”

Fijian PM Voreqe Bainimarama and his Tongan counterpart opening the Nadave renewable energy scheme. Picture : Fijian Government

Leaders have asked everyone to communicate so they know what is happening at their national borders.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has stated that while security is a sovereign right, the moment that decision has regional implications it becomes everyone’s concern.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said he was in consensus with this. He reiterated that there would be no foreign military bases on the Solomon Islands.

And for the first time, Mr Puna spoke of the manner in which the Chinese had come forward with their deal which was offered to the ten Pacific nations with diplomatic ties to China.

“They came here with their prepared outcomes document, it was that what our members reacted against,” said Mr Puna.

“Because if anybody knows what we want and what we need and what our priorities are, it is not other people, it is us. And it was on that reason, the region did not accept that approach.”

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