Anita Roberts & Kizzy Kalsakau – The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Leaders Summit proposed to be held from July 17 to 21 is postponed to another date, which is yet to be confirmed.
This was confirmed by the Foreign Affairs Minister and Deputy Prime Minister (DPM), Jotham Napat. He said the MSG Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting last month proposed this date pending confirmation from each member country.
Foreign Affairs Minister Napat said they have received a confirmation from the government of Solomon Islands noting they have a clash with their Parliament Sitting, therefore the meeting had to be rescheduled.
"Vanuatu's Prime Minister as Chair of the MSG will write to the members for them to reschedule the meeting on another date where every leaders are available to complete their issues," he told the Daily Post.
"For Vanuatu, July is already full of activities. The President of France is arriving soon. We are looking at organising the meeting in August."
Asked to confirm whether the endorsement of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (UMLWP) as a full member of MSG is going to be an agenda at this Leaders Meeting, the DPM replied that this was not discussed at the MSG Foreign Affairs Minister Meeting.
He explained that the Foreign Affairs Minister Meeting discussed only the budget and its approval, however the application for UMLWP becoming a full member will be discussed in a retreat by the MSG Prime Ministers before any adoption. Vanuatu has strongly been supporting this agenda.
The Jakarta Globe reported that the DPM and Foreign Affairs Minister has discussed the possibility of Vanuatu opening an embassy in Indonesia with his Indonesian counterpart during his visit there last month.
He said he told his counterpart about Vanuatu's push for West Papua to be part of MSG. "Indonesia has been very frank about this matter. They consider West Papua as part of them and they told us that we (Vanuatu) are undermining their sovereignty.
"This does not stop us to keep pushing this agenda to the MSG Leaders to decide on it. It's a sensitive issue that needs to be agreed by all leaders. Every decision are to be taken by consensus, it will be very difficult if some of the leaders are reluctant to support the agenda," he said.
Indonesia has been providing scholarships for Papua New Guineans and Fijians to study abroad. Asked if such assistance could jeopardise Vanuatu's push for West Papua, Minister Napat said: "Vanuatu is a sovereign country and it must decide on its own destiny and future.
"It is the same for PNG, it has its own sovereign right. Somewhere we (Vanuatu) have to find what is our interest, whether we continue pursuing the idea or we decide on a different path but continue advocate.
"You cannot be shouting from outside. You have to sit at the roundtable with them and talk so that they can hear you. It's an interest for Vanuatu to pursue the matter, but when it comes to MSG its a collective decision."