Bula Vinaka and Talofa lava.
It is my great pleasure to be here at the opening of the Fijian High Commission of the Independent State of Samoa. Following the opening of the Cook Islands High Commission yesterday evening, yours is the tenth Pacific Island Mission in Fiji.
Madam Prime Minister, welcome to Fiji for your first visit as the Leader of the Independent State of Samoa. I have said this to you before over video call, but now that we’re finally together in-person, let me congratulate you on making history as Samoa’s first female Prime Minister. Your leadership brings new energy, perspective, and dynamism to our partnership.
There is no known date for when Fijians and Samoans first encountered one another. We’ve always shared an ocean. Through the millennia, our people have been connected by marriage, migration, trade, sports, and even war. These days we keep any rivalry to the rugby pitch.
Off the field, we are family, because we know each other’s challenges and share each other’s struggles as only family can. At a time when our region is host to a contest of competing interests, our bond as Pacific nations has never mattered more. Climate action, ocean preservation, and nutrition security are the causes we choose because it is obvious, they will determine our destiny. Most of our citizens live within shouting distance of a shoreline. They are threatened by the same storms and the same rising sea. For their sake, we must speak with one voice, work with one resolve, towards the one future that guarantees our security –– a world that keeps below 1.5 degrees Celcius of warming.
Your new High Commission shows how serious Samoa is about building its friendship with Fiji and ramping up its regional engagement. As I said last night, Fiji is the Pacific hub of trade, travel, telecommunications, and finance, and our capital is the one-stop-shop for all multilateral matters. In one trip to one city, our region’s Leaders can make connections and coordinate engagement with each other and the world.
A more connected Pacific is a more secure Pacific. As a major producer of food and manufactured goods, Fiji is ready to play a much larger role to support regional nutrition security, shipping, trade, and human capital.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I want to especially acknowledge the diligent work carried out behind the scenes by Samoa’s Resident High Commissioner, Elisaia, his staff and the Samoan community here in Fiji to make this opening possible.
Samoans began this month by celebrating their 60th Anniversary of Independence. We’re grateful to help you celebrate this evening with another milestone for your diplomatic engagement. I look forward to Samoa’s quick recovery as you prepare to open your borders and normalize international travel this August, as I look forward to continuing to work closely with you, Madam Prime Minister, to take our bilateral relationship to new heights and work together to deliver on our Blue Pacific agenda.