Cooks Opposition: PM Failing To Detail Benefits Of UN Bid

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Costs of changing relationship with New Zealand are ‘worrisome’

By Phillipa Webb

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, June 24, 2015) – Prime Minister Henry Puna has failed to detail benefits that would offset the worrisome costs of becoming independent from New Zealand to gain a seat in the United Nations.

So says Democratic Party Member of Parliament for Murienua James Beer, who in a letter to CI News said New Zealand Prime Minister John Key ‘could not have been any clearer’ in his legal interpretation of the constitutional arrangements between the Cook Islands and New Zealand.

Beer referred to a Radio New Zealand story on June 19, where Key said "...if the Cook Islands wants UN membership, the constitutional relationship including the current shared citizenship will need to change".

Beer said he is glad that John Key’s statement was so clear and firm.

"The simple reality many have been trying to point out to Prime Minister [Henry] Puna is that you can’t have it both ways: we can be members of the United Nations but we must be a sovereign nation to do so... and that would mean changing our relationship with New Zealand."

In other words, Beer said the UN will not recognise the Cook Islands unless it has its own Cook Islands citizenship and Cook Islands passport.

"I understand the UN faces some very important issues, and I do understand how our voice there might help. But let us not forget that New Zealand—with an excellent international reputation, vast resources, and a team of experienced diplomats—is steward of our interests within the UN."

In parliament last week, Prime Minister Henry Puna said the government has not ‘moved on’ in its hopes to become a member of the UN ‘in respect for the relationship this country has with New Zealand’.

However he said discussions around the issue would continue in August when Key is on Rarotonga for constitution celebrations. Quit talking about UN membership.

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