Press Release – Over Eight Days, President Panuelo Virtually Receives Eight Ambassadors; FSM Strengthens Relations with Belgium, France, the Holy See, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, and Turkey

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—Over a period of eight days, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)—virtually received eight Ambassadors, for both their Presentation of Credentials ceremonies and courtesy calls. The President virtually received the Ambassadors from the Kingdom of Belgium, the French Republic, the Holy See, Hungary, the Republic of India, the Republic of Indonesia, the Italian Republic, and the Republic of Turkey.

The new Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to the FSM is H.E. Michel Parys. Ambassador Parys expressed Belgium’s eagerness to assist the FSM in areas of mutual concern, such as combating Climate Change, promoting peace and stability, and the law of the sea. President Panuelo solicited Belgium’s support in establishing an Office of the European Union in the North Pacific to better collaborate with the new United Nations Multi-Country Office hosted by the FSM.

The new Ambassador of the French Republic is H.E. Michele Boccoz.  Ambassador Boccoz noted that France is ready to assist the FSM and the Pacific at large in areas such as health, the protection of biodiversity, the fight against Climate Change, and scientific cooperation and economic development. President Panuelo solicited France’s support at the 26th Conference of Parties in Glasgow, emphasizing that France has an outsized history of positive philosophical and scientific influence in the World, and that such influence may be the deciding factor in the World’s success in tackling Climate Change.

The new Ambassador of the Holy See is Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa. The Ambassador emphasized that all human beings are created in God’s image and, therefore, we are all brothers and sisters; additionally, the Ambassador conveyed, on behalf of His Holiness, Pope Francis, the Holy See’s best wishes for the peace and wellbeing of the People of the FSM. President Panuelo—a practicing Catholic—touched on the positive influences of Catholic Missionaries to the FSM, and solicited for the Holy See’s continued support in tackling Climate Change and promoting human rights.

H.E. Titanilla Toth is the first Ambassador of the Republic of Hungary to the FSM, and it is on that premise that additional space in this release is devoted to this historical event in FSM-Hungary relations. Ambassador Toth conveyed on behalf of His Excellency Janos Ader, President of Hungary, his cordial greetings, and best wishes, on behalf of the People and Government of Hungary to the People and Government of the FSM. Additionally, Ambassador Toth spoke at length about the FSM’s and Hungary’s mutual concerns about Climate Change. In particular, the Ambassador noted that Hungary is a key player in water solutions and water technologies, and encouraged the FSM to join such conversations as a means of exploring future FSM-Hungary partnerships.

President Panuelo solicited Hungary’s assistance in exploring the possibility of establishing an Office of the European Union to be hosted in the FSM, as a means of providing augmentative support for both the North Pacific United Nations Multi-Country Office and the Micronesian Presidents Summit. Additionally, President Panuelo noted that while some Micronesian islands do not necessarily have drinking water issues—such as Pohnpei proper, which is one of the rainiest parts of the Planet—that remote atolls have substantive water issues further exacerbated by the effects of Climate Change (e.g. Kapingamarangi Atoll).

The new Ambassador of the Republic of India is H.E. Shambhu S. Kumaran. The Ambassador, noting that India is strongly in support of the Paris Agreement as a means of tackling Climate Change, proposed that the FSM join the International Solar Alliance, a group of more than 120 countries focused on solar energy. Additionally, the Ambassador encouraged the FSM to explore bilateral grants from India that can be used in renewable energy projects. President Panuelo noted the FSM’s appreciation for India’s support, advising that previous Indian support has helped the FSM’s integrated agriculture census and supported the development of coconut-related projects as a means of strengthening the Nation’s food security.

Additionally, both Ambassador Kumaran and President Panuelo discussed the increasing importance of cybersecurity in the context of the promotion of a Free & Open Indo-Pacific.  President Panuelo noted the recent establishment of the FSM Cybersecurity & Intelligence Bureau (CSIB), and Ambassador Kumaran noted that India has training opportunities in that area—which the FSM intends to make use of.

The new Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia is H.E. Heri Akhmadi. The Ambassador described Indonesia’s commitments to tackling Climate Change and the importance of maintaining regional security. President Panuelo highlighted the FSM’s commitment to a Free & Open Indo-Pacific, affirmed the FSM’s support of Indonesia’s territorial integrity, and solicited Indonesia’s support at COP26 in tackling Climate Change. Additionally, President Panuelo solicited continued engagement on the Memorandum of Understanding regarding the Eauripik Rise, and highlighted the FSM’s support for an FSM-Indonesia visa waiver that is presently being finalized by the Executive Branch for submission to the FSM Congress for their ratification.

The new Ambassador of the Italian Republic is H.E. Marco Clemente. Ambassador Clemente solicited the FSM’s support for Italy’s candidatures for the International Law Commission and the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, noted that Italy has appointed a Special Envoy in Rome to provide consistent Italian policy to Pacific Islands, congratulated the FSM on its efforts in tackling COVID-19, emphasized Italy’s support in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19, and agreed that Climate Change represents an existential threat to the World, particularly to countries like the FSM.

President Panuelo took note of Italy’s candidature requests for joining the International Law Commission and UNESCO World Heritage Committee—which the FSM has since committed to publicly supporting—and solicited Italy’s support in establishing an Office of the European Union in the North Pacific, which would assist the FSM, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Kiribati, and the Republic of Nauru. Additionally, President Panuelo thanked Italy for their financial support in contributing to the development of the FSM’s Nationally Determined Contributions in tackling Climate Change.

The new Ambassador from the Republic of Turkey is H.E. Korkut Gungen. Ambassador Gungen noted that Turkey remains ready to assist the FSM with projects tackling Climate Change, and that Turkey is concluding work on a Civil Aviation Agreement which would promote people-to-people exchanges and economic empowerment initiatives. President Panuelo noted that the FSM is ready to engage with Turkey on Civil Aviation to finalize this agreement, solicited Turkey’s support at COP26 in tackling Climate Change, and noted that the FSM is looking forward to gaining membership in the International Police Organization (INTERPOL) at the forthcoming gathering to take place in Istanbul. INTERPOL membership, President Panuelo noted, is one of the priorities he highlighted in his inaugural address.

The FSM extends to all peoples and nations that which it seeks: peace, friendship, cooperation, and love in our common humanity.