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State Banquet for Nauru's 50th Anniversary of Independence

January 31, 2018       Centennial Hall, Aiwo District, Nauru

Your Excellency the President Baron Waqa and Lady Louisa Waqa,
Your Excellency the Governor-General of Australia,
Your Excellency the President of the Federated States of Micronesia,
Your Excellency the President of the Marshall Islands,
Your Excellency the President of Vanuatu,
The Honourable Prime Minister of the Cook Islands,
The Honourable Prime Minister of Samoa,
The Honourable Prime Minister of Tuvalu,
The Honourable Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs of Indonesia,
The Honourable Cabinet and Vice-Ministers from other Nations joining Nauru in the celebrations,
The Honourable Speaker of Parliament for Nauru,
The Honourable Chief Justice,
Honourable Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament for Nauru,
Your Excellencies, members of the Diplomatic Corps, Heads of Missions and Heads of Regional Organisations,
Chiefs and Community Leaders of Nauru,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Omo yemero, Ni sa bula vinaka, and a very good evening to you all.

I am deeply honoured to be given this opportunity to speak on behalf of all the Head
of State, Heads of Government, and Heads of Delegation who have gathered here in
Nauru over the past few days to celebrate this great country’s 50th anniversary of

And I want to express on behalf of all our friends from the Pacific and beyond, our
profound gratitude to Your Excellency the President, your government and the
people of Nauru for the warmth of your welcome and hospitality over the past few

We have certainly enjoyed the festivities. And importantly, we thoroughly enjoyed
renewing our association as neighbours and great friends in this vast Pacific Ocean.

This is also a wonderful occasion for me, as the Fijian Head of State and
representative of the Fijian Government and people, to be here with the people
of Nauru to celebrate this historic occasion. And I also want convey to you all the
warmest greetings and congratulations of every Fijian.

Fiji and Nauru have always enjoyed a close relationship as nations stretching back
to the establishment of our diplomatic ties some decades ago. We are bound by
our geographical proximity and connectivity through your national air carrier,
Nauru Airlines. And we already enjoy close cooperation across a broad front
including social, economic and very close people-to-people relations. Your good
self, President Waqa, have strong family connections in Fiji through
Your Excellency’s biological family, and of course through Lady Waqa.

Fiji is especially pleased that we have been able to assist Nauru to build its
capacity in the areas of education, health and medical services, judicial and
legal services, among others.

We are also partners in our collective effort to improve the state of our ocean and
protect it from the pollution and overfishing that threatens our livelihoods here in
the Pacific and around the world. And Fiji deeply appreciated Nauru’s support when we co-hosted – with Sweden– the World Ocean Conference at the United Nations in New York in June of 2017.
I am particularly honoured to also have this opportunity today to convey Fiji’s
sincere appreciation to Nauru and to all our Pacific Islands States and friends from
beyond the Pacific, for your support when we took on the presidency of COP23 in
November last year.

Fiji’s Prime Minister and president of COP23, Honourable Voreqe Bainimarama
asked that I convey his sincere appreciation for all your contributions prior to the
meeting in Bonn and during the actual climate change negotiations. Your support
enabled us to not only meet, but to exceed, many of the expectations of the world
in leading the negotiations.

We are into the third month of our presidency and we wish to reiterate that this is
very much a Pacific presidency.

Our shared climate advocacy doesn’t stop here, because the job is far from over.
In fact, we recently launched the International Year of the Reef in Fiji, an initiative
aimed at protecting the world’s coral reefs and their related ecosystems.

We will continue to fight to protect our oceans, and continue to make the world
hear the voice of all Small Island Developing States like never before.
Your ongoing support will enable our voices to be heard, and for decisive action
to be taken to address the most pressing challenge facing the world today.

We are people of Big Ocean States and we reiterate our intentions of total
solidarity and support for Nauru and our low-lying Pacific Islands, as we paddle
forward together in the same canoe.

As many of you would have heard, Fiji has offered an alternative home to some
Pacific Islanders whose islands risk becoming inundated by the effects of climate
change. We remain committed to that offer!

We also remain committed to sticking together with Nauru and other Pacific
Islands States as nations and as people. We will stand shoulder-to-shoulder to
confront the challenges ahead of us.

Your Excellency, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen; as we commemorate
and celebrate the 50th anniversary of your Independence, we recall with pride
those who built this nation. May the legacy they have left for the generations of
Nauruans now and in the future, live on with God’s mercy and grace.

Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am especially
proud and privileged to be here representing the Fijian people as the people of
Nauru rededicate themselves to continuing to build the nation they love.

And, on behalf of all of your visitors gathered here today, I thank you once again
Your Excellency Baron Waqa and your government and the people of Nauru for
inviting us to join you in the celebration of your nation’s 50th anniversary of

May Almighty God continue to bless us all. And may God Bless Nauru now and evermore.

Vinaka vakalevu and Tubwa Kor.