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Media Center > Speeches > MINISTER FOR DEFENCE HON. INIA SERUIRATU AT THE OPENING OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC DEFENCE MINISTERS MEETI

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE HON. INIA SERUIRATU AT THE OPENING OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC DEFENCE MINISTERS MEETING

5/9/2019
My fellow counterparts and representatives from Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Tonga;
Respective Chiefs of Defence;
Members of the Observer Group; and
Representatives of the Pacific Quadrilateral Defence Coordinating Group

Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

On behalf of the Government of Fiji, it is indeed my great pleasure to welcome you all to the 4th South Pacific Defence Ministers Meeting. The Fijian Government is honored to be given this opportunity to play host to this high level security fora, where we consolidate our efforts in ensuring the security of our region, its peoples and their livelihoods.

From its humble beginnings in Tonga in 2013 focusing primarily on humanitarian, disaster relief and maritime surveillance, our efforts over the years has seen the expansion of the SPDMM into an enduring security platform which underwrites the region’s continued stability and prosperity.

Pacific Leaders in 2018 forged a new regional security arrangement recognizing climate change as the single greatest non-traditional threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific’. This is an important step forward for our region in the fight against climate change and the ball is now in our court here at the SPDMM to be able to provide strategic leadership and guidance to the climate change and security nexus of our region. This being said, I trust that we will have vibrant discussions on this thematic area in our engagement today.

Having said that, I would like to acknowledge the outcomes of the 2017 SPDMM, particularly the reaffirmed enduring importance of security and defence to the South Pacific which provides for the continued regional stability and prosperity of our region.
This is ensured and realized through regional collaboration and partnership approaches such as the POVAI Endeavour Framework, advancements in women peace and security, and the recognition of key challenges for the regions security and defence.

These challenges include defence and security capabilities and capacity limitations, an increasingly complex and crowded geopolitical space, transnational crime, traditional and non-traditional threats—notably natural disasters and the increasing severity of climate change.

As Pacific Island Countries surrounded by the great Pacific Ocean and bordered by the ‘Ring of Fire’, our security architecture is greatly influenced by our geographic location and the freedom of navigation that exists which allows for a wide array of maritime activities within the Pacific Ocean—the world’s largest ocean which covers around a third of the Earths total area.

As Ministers and Chiefs of Defence of our respective states, it is our prerogative to ensure the maintenance of security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of not only our individual States, but also that of our region. We can achieve this through collaboration on defence capability modernization and collective situational analysis and sharing of pertinent, timely and quality information on Defence and Security issues of the past, present and future in forums such as this.

I urge all members to take advantage of the Defence exercise platform as outlined in the POVAI framework that promotes a learning environment to progress women participation in peace and security.

Ladies and gentlemen, during the course of the meeting, let’s endeavor to use this space to effectively contribute towards the future of peace and security in our region.

Vinaka Vakalevu.
 
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