July 12, 2022
Pacific Forum split a family matter
The Minister for Pacific Island Peoples, Aupito William Sio, is playing down the split in the Pacific Island Forum, with Kiribati leaving on the eve of the leaders’ meeting.
Mr Sio was in Suva over the weekend for the meeting of foreign ministers which preceded the leaders’ meeting, which is being attended by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Micronesian leaders have threatened to leave the regional body because their candidate for secretary-general of the forum was passed over in favour of former Cook Islands prime minister Henry Puna.
Mr Sio says Pacific nations are still a family.
“This happens with families, this fracture with Micronesia, with Kiribati. Look at what happened to Europe with Brexit. Look at what is happening with Russia and Ukraine in the way the NATO countries are swirling around. Here in the Pacific, we try not to take sides. We try to work with everybody,” he says.
Aupito Sio says Pacific nations are still grappling with issues like climate change, fisheries and dealing with the Covid pandemic and recovery, as well as responding to superpowers like China trying to increase their influence in the region.