Vanuatu And France To Hold Border Talks

Vanuatu PM:  'treaty France made with Fiji did not recognize Vanuatu, knowing full well that Vanuatu is an independent state since 1980', border treaty was completed without Vanuatu consultation

By Jonas Cullwick

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, September 15, 2017) – Border talks between Vanuatu and France will be held in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, in October.

This has been announced by the Vanuatu Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai who confirmed that a border treaty with France is an area the Government continues to work on “as we are disputing the border treaty signed between France and Fiji that covers the disputed islands of Mathew and Hunter claimed by Vanuatu”.

Prime Minister Salwai said that at the recent meeting of the SPC in New Caledonia, he met with the French Minister of Overseas Territories, Annick Girardin, and during their bilateral discussions he raised the issues of the border treaty between the two countries to have it returned to the table for discussion.

“In January this year, i discussed the matter with the Foreign Minister of France in the government then acting in caretaker capacity,” he added.

“Now with this new government in place, i raised the subject with the Minister of Overseas Territories because of a number of important matters that have made it now a regional issue, under Vanuatu’s Ocean Policy covering climate change and other issue.

“Under this, France has made its claim which we continue to dispute and we continue to request a high level technical meeting.”

With that, the Minister for DOM-TOM has requested Vanuatu to find a venue at a neutral location and set a date for the meeting.

The meeting will now be held at the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) headquarters in Honiara, Solomon Islands in October to talk about a border treaty between Vanuatu and France, the Prime Minister said.

“After this we will need to start discussions with Fiji on the border treaty between the two countries.

“We always say that the treaty France made with Fiji did not recognize Vanuatu, knowing full well that Vanuatu is an independent state since 1980 and they went on and sign the border treaty without consulting us.

“This is why Vanuatu continues to dispute France’s claims and the treaty with Fiji. There are geographical reasons, cultural and traditional reasons it has in line with Melanesian spirit, Melanesian culture. We have the word of the Kanaks and the senators of New Caledonia who expressed support for of our positions last year,” the Vanuatu Prime Minister said.

He assured ni-Vanuatu who may be thinking that government is not doing anything about the issue, but that they did when opportunities arose and this year they have done so twice. The first was in Paris in January and again now with the France’s Minister of Overseas Territories, while waiting for the meeting in Honiara next month.

Border issue is a subject that has always been a subject of discussion in the Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders and the Forum leaders meeting over the years. Last year Vanuatu and Solomon signed a border treaty between them, which Vanuatu has ratified and awaiting ratification by the Solomon Islands Parliament.

“Hopefully once they ratify it, we can deposit the treaty agreement with Solomon Islands at the UN General Assembly starting on September 19 in New York City at the UN headquarters building,” PM Salwai said.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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