TEMARU PARRIES FRENCH ENVOY OVER INDEPENDENCE

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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Oct. 31) – French Polynesia President Oscar Temaru said upon returning to Tahiti Saturday night that he’s qualified to talk about Tahiti’s independence on foreign soil.

Temaru was answering last week’s criticism from French High Commissioner Anne Boquet, who said that as French Polynesia’s president Temaru "should not be talking about independence on foreign soil".

With a generous smile that indicated he accepted the high commissioner’s criticism, Temaru clarified his independence statements made during the just concluded 36th Pacific Islands Forum Summit in Papua New Guinea. Temaru told Tahiti’s news media upon arriving in Tahiti from Auckland, "I shouldn’t be talking, but I’m qualified."

Serene, smiling and covered in traditional welcoming flower leis, Temaru was obviously satisfied with having opened the door of the Forum to changing French Polynesia’s status from observer to associate member.

According to Temaru, Tahiti obtained associate member status during the Pacific Forum meeting. However, when High Commissioner Boquet was interviewed by French daily newspaper La Dépêche de Tahiti last week, she said French Polynesia’s status as associate member was underway and not already achieved. Tahiti must first obtain approval from France, she said.

Temaru claimed Saturday night that there is a procedure for French Polynesia to obtain prior agreement from France. Only then can the admission process begin with the Forum giving its approval on the basis of consensus, Temaru said.

Tahiti’s president also replied to the high commissioner’s declaration during the newspaper interview that Temaru’s "role as president should incline him to be more reserved and prudent when making declarations overseas".

Without appearing to take offense with Ms. Boquet’s comment, Temaru said Saturday night, "Since 1978, I have been knocking on this door and up until today, (French) Polynesia had never succeeded in acquiring what we have obtained (today), that is to say to be able to sit down around a table and talk about the problems that concern all of us in this part of the Pacific—economic growth, long term development, environmental problems, youth, etc.

"This is a first. It is worth making it clear that the European community wishes that the peripheral territories be integrated within regional organizations," Temaru said.

November 1, 2005

Tahitipresse: http://www.tahitipresse.pf/index.cfm?lang=2

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