Cooks PM Supports French Polynesia’s Forum Membership Bid

Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Territory seeks upgrade from associate to full member status

By Phillipa Webb

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Sept. 10, 2015) – Prime Minister Henry Puna is supporting one of the Cook Islands’ closest neighbours in their quest to become a member of the Pacific Islands Forum.

French Polynesian president Edouard Fritch has appealed to the Pacific Islands Forum leaders for full membership of organisation.

French Polynesia, a territory of France, is an associate member of the Forum and its bid for membership has been highlighted as one of the items to be discussed by leaders this week.

During bilateral talks with Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in Port Moresby on Sunday (our time), Puna took the opportunity to discuss membership criteria of the Forum, and the extent to which leaders could demonstrate some ‘flexibility’ towards French Polynesia’ bid.

Both leaders agreed that involving French Polynesia at "every level of the region" would only add value to the Pacific family.

However they both noted a decision would need consensus on the part of all the leaders and any change would have to ensure equity for other potential members.

Radio New Zealand reported Fritch as saying it was time for full membership after the territory’s 10 years as an observer and associate at the Forum.

CI News understands Niue and Tokelau are also supporting French Polynesia’s bid to become a full member.

Some analysts say French Polynesia’s inclusion could set a precedent or domino effect for other Pacific territories to follow suit.

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