PNG seeks guidelines on West Papuan MSG bid
Papua New Guinea's Foreign Minister says it's important that the Melanesian Spearhead Group sort out its guidelines around membership after MSG leaders last week deferred a decision on a full membership application by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.
Papua New Guinea's Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato says it's important that the Melanesian Spearhead Group sort out its guidelines around membership.
In Honiara last week, MSG leaders deferred a decision on a full membership application by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, citing a need to establish guidelines for membership.
Vanuatu's government has expressed disappointment at the outcome amid increasing signs that along with Solomon Islands and New Caledonia's FLNKS Kanaks movement, it is at odds with the other full MSG members PNG and Fiji.
Mr Pato spoke to Johnny Blades who asked if it was true that Fiji threatened to leave the MSG along with associate member Indonesia if the West Papuans were granted full membership.
RIMBINK PATO: Well I think Fiji can speak for itself. But I think Fiji and PNG are in agreement that there must be a definitive statement as to the characteristics which will enable full membership of future or present applicants for full membership in the MSG group. As if the case with PIF (Pacific Islands Forum) for example, where there was an application from French Polynesia and the issue of what are those characteristics that should enable someone's membership that is under consideration. So our position is that we should maintain some consistency. Unless those issues are determined, any applications before that without a definitive statement as to those things which enable one to acquire full membership, until then unless those things are finalised, any application therefore would be incompetent.
JOHNNY BLADES: So this was the case with the FLNKS, that's the criteria that they met when they joined?
RP: No. FLNKS, they were in there right from the beginning. They have come a long way and they have taken a completely different route in terms of the issues that require their inclusion and consideration for full membership; and their agendas for example of going through the process recognised by international law, the issue of decolonisation. Look, we are concerned for example with the issue of alleged human rights (abuses) in Indonesia's provinces of West Papua and Papua. But that being said, that issue must be separate from the issue of self-determination. PNG's position, and I think it's also the position of Fiji, is that West Papua remains an integral part of the republic of Indonesia.
JB: But can't you have them in the group and it doesn't have to be about supporting independence. I mean (PNG prime minister) Peter O'Neill said it last year that it was time for the West Papuans to be at the table because...
RP: Well, they are West Papuans at the table. So are the Indonesians. They're all at the table. One is associate member and the other one is observer. But again, this requires a definition as to what one must meet to be a member. That's under review at the moment. Our technical officials are still working on it. And for example, the draft that they came up (with) had flaws in it. For example, they said how you acquire membership, and in paragraph one they're talking about states acquiring membership and what you need to do, and then further down, there were so many inconsistencies, you know what I mean. It was done in the night and brought in the morning, so all these things need to be polished up.
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