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PAPEÉTE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, June 13) - French Polynesia President Oscar Temaru left Tahiti Saturday for a five-day official visit to Australia before he leads a delegation of government officials to Paris to normalize relations with new key members of the French government.

Temaru’s trip to Australia will include a visit to a tuna-breeding farm and meetings with Air Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Tourisme officials who are preparing for the July 9 launching of two weekly non-stop Air Tahiti Nui flights from Sydney to Papeéte and on to New York.

Minister of the Sea Keitapu Maamaatuaiahutapu and Temauri Foster, the mayor of Hao and an opposition member of the French Polynesia Assembly, are accompanying Temaru to Australia. Their visit to a tuna-breeding farm in Lincoln is aimed at collecting information that will be helpful to setting up a similar operation on Hao.

Temaru is scheduled to visit Paris from June 22-24 to meet with the French government’s new overseas minister, François Baroin, the new justice minister, Pascal Clément, and the new transport minister, Dominique Perben, the former justice minister.

The visit is aimed at a "prolongation of the normalization of relations between" French Polynesia and the French State, according to a communiqué issued Friday by Temaru’s presidency.

Meanwhile, former French Polynesia President and now opposition leader Gaston Flosse is due to meet on Monday with Baroin, who succeeded Overseas Minister Brigitte Girardin in the new government formed last week by new French Prime Minister Dominic de Villepin.

One of the key subjects Temaru plans to discuss with Baroin is the creation of a new economic development pact between France and Tahiti for 2005-2006 and 2007-2017, according to the presidential communiqué.

The talks will almost certainly involve a French organic law that Girardin proposed before leaving office that created a political stir in Tahiti when its contents were revealed this past week. The majority of Tahiti’s political leaders reacted negatively to the proposal that some see as a threat to last years gains under French Polynesia’s revised autonomy statute.

The French Polynesia Assembly has until June 30 to voice its opinion on the proposed organic law, which Temaru has described as a step back to the system of French governing in the territory that existed during colonial times.

However, Baroin said Friday in Paris that he would naturally be attentive to the opinions voiced in the various official bodies throughout France’s overseas departments, regions and territories, since the proposed organic law would apply to all, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

In Papeéte, Friday, French Polynesia Assembly President (Speaker) Antony Géros called for vigilance when the proposed organic law comes up for discussion in the Assembly. He said the proposal represents a real potential gradual loss of autonomy "and a return to the colonial era."

But according to Baroin’s statement Friday, the proposed law is partly aimed at specifying how constitutional provisions relating to the French overseas communities should be applied under the constitutional law of March 28, 2003, AFP reported. The proposed legislation is also aimed at updating or specifying the statutes in effect or to continue modernization work on overseas law, Baroin said.

AFP quoted an official source as saying, "at this stage, these bills are subject to public discussion", and Baroin "will naturally be attentive to the course of the debate and to the conclusions of the deliberating assemblies".

President Temaru’s communiqué Friday also stated there are five important dossiers that Tahiti wants to discuss with the new justice minister. Among them is the proposed organic law that would modify the distribution of powers between the French State and the territory.

The other subjects Temaru wants to discuss with Clément include rebuilding Tahiti’s prison, clarifying legal assistance procedures and the creation of a legal protection service for young people.

During his meeting with Transport Minister Perben, Temaru plans to discuss the development of Air Tahiti Nui with the opening of new nonstop New York-Papeéte and Sydney-Papeéte flights on July 4 and July 9, respectively, as well as a planned Beijing-Papeéte service. Another subject will be the rebuilding of the Tahiti-Faa’a International Airport, the presidential communiqué stated.

A member of the Temaru delegation, Culture Minister Tahuiti Nena, will leave from Paris for Monaco with several artisans to attend the year’s biggest exhibition with a Polynesian theme. This will offer a unique opportunity for promoting French Polynesia, the presidential communiqué stated.

Finally, Temaru, Air Tahiti Nui Chairman and Managing Director Patrick Leboucher will go to the Airbus factory in Toulouse to take delivery on Monday of Air Tahiti Nui’s new Airbus 340-300, which will then go on display at the 46th International Paris Air Show before being flown to Tahiti.

June 14, 2005

Tahitipresse: www.tahitipresse.pf


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