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YAREN, Nauru (February 5, 2001 - Public Affairs Office)---In an address marking Nauru’s 33rd anniversary of independence last week, President Bernard Dowiyogo highlighted some of the republic’s accomplishments in 2000, including improved infrastructure projects and an increase in the number of college graduates.

As Nauru relies more on fishing, Dowiyogo noted the importance of a new boat harbor that was built with assistance from Japan. Also, he said the newly established Business Advisory Center was built to encourage more private sector development.

In the area of education, the president said Nauru last year recorded the highest number of students ever graduating with university degrees.

Dowiyogo also highlighted Nauru’s accomplishments in the international arena, including participation in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and the United Nations Millennium Summit.

The president thanked those who have supported Nauru, including the republic’s expatriate community; the Asian Development Bank; the Commonwealth Secretariat; members of the Pacific Islands Forum; and the governments of the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

As for the future, Dowiyogo said Nauru will continue its friendly relationship with China.

He thanked China for assisting with preparations for the World Weightlifting Championship, which will be held in Nauru later this year.

The president also said Nauru will continue to advocate for human rights in West Papua.

"The people of West Papua deserve to be given the right by Indonesia and the United Nations to hold a referendum to decide their future," Dowiyogo said. "I call upon Indonesia to allow this without any further delay."

Dowiyogo said the Nauru government this year will work in partnership with its residents to "help return our nation to a path of growth and prosperity, and much needed stability."

Nauru became an independent republic in 1968 after more than 20 years of control by Australia as a United Nations Trust territory.

Independence Day is celebrated on January 31.

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