PALIKIR, Pohnpei—From the week of November 21st to 25th, 2022, the Honorable Aren B. Palik— Vice President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)—engaged in a series of meetings and events in the Republic of Vanuatu, including representing the FSM in the Thematic Session of the 12th Conference of Leaders (C12) of the Pacific Community, a member of the Council of Regional Organizations of the Pacific (CROP) currently celebrating its 75th anniversary.
Amongst the issues of importance to FSM regarding the Pacific Community, there were discussions such as an initiative for an independent institutional review of the organization taking into consideration changing dynamics of the region. Additionally, there were updates on ongoing efforts to establish a Polynesia Regional Office which, when established, will see each of the three sub-regions of the Pacific represented equitably, as well as the Pacific Community’s Strategic Plan to govern the work of the Secretariat from 2022 to 2031.
While in Vanuatu, Vice President Palik undertook a variety of engagements with the Nation’s friends, allies, and development partners.
One such engagement included a bilateral with Her Excellency Mary Seet-Cheng, Ambassador of Singapore to the Pacific Islands Forum. During the meeting, the Vice President and the Ambassador discussed respective national development challenges, as well as mutual support for more integrated bilateral cooperation on training opportunities for human capacity-building. Previous engagements with Singapore during the Panuelo-Palik administration have included requests from the FSM for Singapore to consider assistance in vocational education curricula design and/or review. The meeting concluded on a positive note, with the Ambassador describing her intention to visit the FSM during the latter part of 2023.
On another engagement, Vice President Palik met with the Pacific Community’s Director General, Stuart Minchin, and other senior management of the organization. The Vice President highlighted the FSM’s appreciation for the presence of the Pacific Community’s Micronesia Regional Office in Pohnpei and the Nation’s interests for program expansion, and consideration of the Pacific Community’s assistance and support for the FSM’s development of a new Strategic Development Plan.
Another fruitful engagement was a meeting between Vice President Palik and the Honorable Henry Puna, Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. The Vice President and the Secretary-General discussed the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, as well as the recently concluded 27th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Regarding the latter, it is the view of the FSM Government that while the development of a Loss & Damage Fund is a significant accomplishment, the Government remains concerned about tipping points, such as the heating of the Amazon and its transformation from a carbon sink to a carbon source.
On another special occasion, Vice President Palik met with students of the FSM who are currently studying in Vanuatu’s Emalus School of Law. The Vice President shared key activities and events with the students, and encouraged them to finish their education and then to come back and contribute to the FSM’s nation-building process.
Vice President Palik also met with the Honorable Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, Minister Delegate of Development, Francophonie, and International Partnerships of the French Republic. The Vice President conveyed the FSM’s appreciation for technical support provided to the Nation which, among others, included the successful inscription of Nan Madol as a United Nations Educational, Scientific, & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. With mutual interest in cultural and historic preservation, the Vice President and the Minister Delegate discussed the FSM’s interest to realize a National Historical Museum. Additionally, the Minister Delegate conveyed France’s interest to co-host the 2025 United Nations Ocean’s Conference with Costa Rica. In this regard, and in tackling Climate Change more broadly, the Vice President conveyed gratitude to France for their
leadership role in regional and international fora.
Joining Vice President Palik to Vanuatu included the Honorable McGarry Miguel, Vice Speaker of the Pohnpei State Legislature; the Honorable Ricky F. Cantero, Deputy Secretary of the FSM Department of Foreign Affairs; Charge’d’ Affaires Wilson Waguk, of the FSM Embassy in Fiji; Deputy Assistant Secretary of Pacific Affairs, Kenmore Salvador; and Executive Officer Francisco Celestine of Pohnpei State Environmental Protection Agency.