18th August 2012, Noumea, New Caledonia: The 2nd MSG Ministerial Mission led by Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, the Minister of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation of Fiji & Chair of the MSG Foreign Ministers Meeting (FMM) has just concluded its week long Mission to New Caledonia to assess the implementation of the Noumea Accord. Other members of the Ministerial Mission included Hon. Alfred Carlot, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Vanuatu, Hon. Moses Garu, Minister of Mines of Solomon Islands; H.E Mr Peter Eafeare, PNG’s High Commissioner to Fiji who deputized on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of PNG; H.E Mr Patteson Oti, Solomon Island High Commissioner to Fiji, Senior Officials; and the Director General, Mr Peter Forau and staff of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat.
The Mission was warmly welcomed by the FLNKS Political Bureau and the Government Authorities in New Caledonia including the French High Commission, the Government and Congress of New Caledonia, other institutions such as the Customary Senate, Economic & Social Council, Customary Chiefs and Provincial Assemblies in the Loyalty Islands, Northern Province and Southern Province. In the Loyalty Islands, the Mission also visited the Ports & Maria wharf and fish market, Vanilla plantation and processing plant at Nathalo and the Employment, Vocational and Professional Training Institute. In the Northern Province, they also visited the 2nd largest Nickel mine in the world, the Vavuota Nickel Plant, a development site on Customary land owned by the Baco tribe and a prawn farm from Poeumbout. In the Southern Province, the Mission visited the “Raphael Pidjot” economic development zone and ended the Mission with a meeting with the FLNKS Political Bureau including a dinner at the Kaimolo Village at Dumbea.
The Mission was generally pleased with the progress made in the implementation of the Accord since 2010 evident in the economic activities in the Northern Province. They noted too that there are five (5) remaining powers that still need to be transferred under the Noumea Accord and that there needs to be more awareness on the process leading up to the 2014-2018 referendum including the referendum itself as well as agreeing to clear guidelines for this process.
Furthermore, the role of the UN Committee of 24 is not clearly understood in some parts of New Caledonia and established institutions therefore the MSG in consultation with New Caledonia will consider exploring the option of approaching the UN to conduct joint visits to advance the Accord and identify areas the MSG and the UN could assist in the process.
As part of its complimentary role to the UN C24, the MSG looks forward to interacting more with the people and authorities of New Caledonia in the monitoring and implementation of the Noumea accord.
The MSG Foreign Ministers will present their findings to the Special Leaders Summit in Nadi, Fiji next week on 22 August.
(Photo caption 1:President of NC Customary Senate addressing the Mission;caption 2:Mission meeting with Northern Province)
Authorised for release by the FMM Chair
Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation P. O. Box 2220 Government Buildings Suva, Fiji