New Vanuatu foreign minister talks foreign policy
Vanuatu's new foreign minister Kalfau Moli says the country will continue to take a stand internationally on key regional issues.
Vanuatu's new foreign minister says the country will continue to take a stand internationally on key regional issues.
Kalfau Moli was appointed last week after the prime minister Joe Natuman sacked Sato Kilman from the foreign minister's role.
Mr Kilman's removal came after his support for a looming motion of no-confidence against Mr Natuman.
The former minister has also been accused of misrepresenting Vanuatu's long-running support for West Papuan rights in his dealings with Indonesia.
Kalfau Moli told Johnny Blades the country's foreign policy direction continues to be set by a prime minister who was an architect of Vanuatu's independence
KALFAU MOLI: As far as Vanuatu is concerned, we want to be friends to everybody and an enemy to nobody. When it comes to foreign policy, there has to be a balance between a sovereign government and its wish for the aspiration of other countries that are still trying to develop or gain independence/
JOHNNY BLADES: You're coming in to the role at this very interesting time with this Melanesian Spearhead Group decision (on a West Papuan membership bid) looming. It seems that Vanuatu's position is quite clear but there seems to be a shifting of the goalposts with people now talking about Indonesia maybe becoming an associate member of the MSG; you've still got this West Papua bid to deal with first, don't you?
KM: Well, we do have that. And we respect Indonesia regarding their intention of wanting to be integrated into the MSG. That again will be an issue that the prime minister will be giving directions on that one. We actually will be in Honiara very soon (for the MSG Leaders Summit in late June) with the prime minister and among the topics will be that one, yeah.
JB: Do you feel there's been a blurring of the lines on this issue?
KM: There's been a blurring on the lines, maybe my predecessor would know more on that. But when it comes to specific issues like West Papua, Vanuatu's position as a sovereign state is that we want to address the human rights issue and then consider the supposed political independence. However having said that, it is very important that a clear forum be put in place before we can look at the issues. but I am very much for a human rights drive and then on top of that look at how we can look at more autonomy... as the founding father of this country, Father Walter Lini, said once: the Pacific is not free until West Papua is free. But at the moment we have become very close friends with Indonesia regarding trade and other things. There's a lot of room for improvement. And I think any improvement on that side will also complement the wishes of the West Papuan people.
JB: Is it possible for Vanuatu to retain that independent voice in regional, international affairs?
KM: Yeah, there has been a shift in international foreign policy by other major countries. As you know, the (indecipherable) islands have been quite silent and then we have other issues also on the joint table. But definitely we will take a stand on key issues.
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