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Media Center > Speeches > HE Sir Iakoba Taeia Italeli - Tuvalu Governor General Dinner Speech

HE Sir Iakoba Taeia Italeli - Tuvalu Governor General Dinner Speech

Your Excellency President Nailatikau
Prime Minister
Honorable Ministers
Members of the Core Diplomatique
Ladies and Gentlemen

Talofa katoa koulua!

This is a special occasion for us as we welcome our brother, comrade and friend President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and delegation members to Tuvalu and especially to this traditional dinner in his honour. I will try to make my speech short, sweet and shiny.

Allow me at this opportunity, to acknowledge the deeply rooted relations between Tuvalu and Fiji by making my own reflection on how we have developed this relationship over the years.

Our close associationwith Fiji were formally recognised when we were part of the British Colonial Rule managed by the its administrative arm called the Western Pacific Commission based in Suva in the 1940s. I believe that it was in this formal setting that for the first time we have worked side by side ensuring that our people could benefit from the institutional arrangements that our colonial masters established in Fiji for Tuvaluans to be able to participate in. It was also around the same time that a number of Tuvaluans bought some lands from the Veisari area just outside Lami Town and are still settling there. However, our people to people exchange became more prominent when the people of Vaitupu purchased the island of Kioa in the Cakaudrove Province after the WWII and relocated part of its population there.
Besides Fiji has also been the training ground for our medical personnel and especially those who were trained at the Fiji School of Medicine and became the first batch of doctors for the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. More and more Tuvaluan students then sent to Fiji to do all sorts of training both in the mainstream education in the University of the South Pacific and vocational training at Fiji Institute of Technology which is now part of the renowned Fiji National University. Tuvaluans with professional skills has also left for greener pasture seeking for jobs in Fiji and some are taking advantage of the availability of better medical care services provided by CWM and Suva Private Hospital. It just did not stop there.

Fiji, to many Tuvaluans, is a second home.
We have our own struggle due to our isolation, smallness and remoteness which has made us the most vulnerable to any external shocks and so do Fiji. I am optimistic that time will come when we will need to combine our efforts in our fight to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment. I am confident that it is in this spirit of cooperation that we could build genuine partnerships.

Fiji has provided us with opportunities to advance our interests and has made us embarked on a bilateral partnership that spans across a wide spectrum covering political, economical and social cooperation confirmed through a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by our Prime Ministers at Natadola in 2010.

The signing of that instrument is a clear indication of our collective determination to take our relations to higher levels for the mutual benefit of our respective countries.

Your Excellency,
May I therefore on behalf of the people and Government of Tuvalu express our deepest and sincerest gratitude and also our greatest appreciation to the people and Government of the Republic of the Fiji Islands for graciously welcoming us to Fiji, and in presenting us with renewed opportunities where we could fully access and take advantage of.

In our discussions this afternoon, we reflected on the centrality of Pacific Islands Development Forum in our efforts to forge regional integration in the Pacific and we also exchanged views on the latest political developments in Fiji and the preparatory work on logistics for the upcoming elections including expressing our support for the return of Fiji to parliamentary democracy in September 2014.

This historic visit will go down in the annals of history as an important beacon of relations between our two nations, who will forever be bound by a history of struggle, sacrifice and common dedication to democracy, justice and the creations of a better life for all.

Please enjoy dinner and the rest of the programme for this

Thank you

Tuvalu mo te Atua

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