16 Jul 2010

Think tank says Pacific Forum still pre-eminent despite rise of sub-regional groups

7:06 pm on 16 July 2010

The executive director of the Pacific Institute of Public Policy says the Pacific Islands Forum remains very much the pre-eminent regional body despite moves to strengthen sub-regional groups.

Derek Brien's comment comes after the Forum announced it would undertake a stock take of its achievements as it prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary next year.

Meanwhile, the Fiji interim regime's planned Engaging Fiji meeting next is threatening to overshadow next month's Forum leaders summit in Vanuatu.

Mr Brien says that ultimately Fiji's suspension from the Forum may not have helped regional efforts to engage with Fiji's regime on returning to democracy:

"Having said that, the interim government of Fiji has done itself no favours by its own actions, for example by trying to arrange this MSG-PLUS, effectively an attempt to undermine the Forum or to side-step the Forum, or to be able to say to everyone on the world stage: look, we can bring all the Pacific islands together in Fiji. It made no sense to anyone as to why that would come in under the MSG."