Solomon Islands

PM lashes out in UN speech

Solomon Islands will not be coerced into choosing a side. This was the clear message delivered by Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare at the United Nations General Assembly.

He told world leaders that the nation was subjected to intimidation and criticism because of their decision to have diplomatic ties with China.

A lot has been said about the Solomon Islands and China relationship, starting with the security pact between the two nations and assumptions made over military bases being set up in the Pacific.

The Solomon Islands has made it clear that it wants other nations to respect its sovereignty and the PM’s speech could be a message to United States president Joe Biden before the Pacific leaders meeting in Washington.

The Solomon Islands eagerness to work with China took another step as the foreign ministers of both these nations met on the fringes of the general assembly to bolster trade ties.

Pacific leaders from left to right, Tongan PM, Solomon PM Manasseh Sogovare and PNG PM James Marape. Picture: PIFS
Pacific leaders from left to right, Tongan PM Siaosi Sovaleni, Solomons PM Manasseh Sogavare and PNG PM James Marape. Picture: PIFS

“We have been subjected to a barrage of unwanted and misplaced criticisms, misinformation and intimidation that threaten our democracy and sovereignty. Solomon Islands has been vilified in the media since establishing its relationship with China,” said Mr Sogavare.

He said the decision on the diplomatic switch from Taiwan to China was reached through democratic processes by a democratically-elected government.

The Solomon Islands had been pro-Taiwan and even campaigned for UN recognition for Taiwan.

“It is consistent with the UN Resolution 2758 of 1971 observed by most countries of the UN and which also articulates the One China Policy that Solomon Islands respects,” Mr Sogavare said.

“Solomon Islands will not be coerced into choosing sides. Mutual respect for national sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference into the internal affairs of any country is universal and paramount.

Solomon Islands PM Manasseh Sogovare with crew members from USNS Mercy. Picture US Pacific Fleet
Solomon Islands PM Manasseh Sogavare with crew members from USNS Mercy. Picture: US Pacific Fleet

“As a sovereign nation, we embrace and zealously guard these principles.”

He said Solomon Islands has adopted a ‘Friends to All and Enemy to none’ policy and that in implementing this policy, it will not align itself with any external powers or security architecture that targets Solomon Islands or any other sovereign country, or threaten regional and international peace.

“I am reminded by the wisdom conveyed by the late President Nelson Mandela during an interview with Ted Koppel which is relevant to our situation and I quote, ‘One of the mistakes which some political analysts make is to think that their enemies should be our enemies. Our attitude towards any country is determined by the attitude of that country to our struggle,’ end of quote,” he said.

“Solomon Islands has no enemies, only friends. Our struggle is to develop our country. We stretch out our hand of friendship and seek genuine and honest cooperation and we zealously guard this principle.”

Mr Sogavare also used the opportunity to call on all countries to exercise sensitivity so as not to inflame tensions in the Taiwan Strait.

He said the Taiwan Strait was one of the world’s busiest trading routes used by international shipping and any miscalculation could threaten international peace and security, and could have disastrous consequences on global trade.

Mr Sogavare also stated that not inviting Pacific Islands Forum secretary general Henry Puna to the Pacific Leaders Summit was a misstep by the US as it tried to bridge gaps with the Pacific.

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