25th APPF Conference - Closing Address
January 18, 2017 Intercontinental Fiji Resort, Natadola
The Prime Minister, Honourable Rear Admiral (Ret’d) Voreqe Bainimarama;
Honourable Members of Parliament of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum Member Countries represented here today;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Ni sa bula vinaka and good evening to you all.
It is an honour and privilege to address you all this evening to close out what has been a very busy and productive four days.
It has been a tremendous start to the new year for Fiji to host all of you here in Natadola, and as we look to the rest of 2017, I wish all your respective parliaments and countries every success.
I would like to begin by giving a very well-deserved Vinaka Vakalevu/Thank you to the Executive Committee of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum.
Fiji is deeply grateful to have been given the opportunity to host such a prestigious gathering. These past four days have given us the chance to show everything that Fiji has to offer – our natural beauty, our tourism infrastructure and our famed hospitality – and it has reiterated our deep commitment to our democratic values and principles.
A commitment that is shared by every nation represented here today.
I believe that congratulations are in order to our Honourable Speaker, Dr. Jiko Luveni, for her leadership in overseeing what has been an overwhelmingly successful forum. Thank you for your good work throughout this conference, and for everything you do for Fiji and the Fijian people.
On opening this forum, our Honourable Prime Minister set out a challenge to us all to live up the sacred duty we owe to protect our citizens and build more inclusive societies.
And I was very happy to learn that you have had fruitful discussions and moved the ball forward in addressing a number of issues affecting our region – in line with this forum’s objective to forge parliamentary partnerships for peace and security.
Regional peace and stability is only assured when we cooperate on issues of common interest, and when we appreciate the unique strengths of our regional partners and use our great diversity for the benefit of us all.
The Asia-Pacific represents a vast multitude of cultures and dimensions, and that gives us an enormous advantage in developing solutions to regional issues as they arise. Because we achieve peace and stability when our member countries bring their own knowledge and experiences to the table and achieve consensus on policies that provide an enduring framework for our peaceful co-existence. Policies that satisfy our mutual desire to achieve modernisation, progress and prosperity.
Over the last 25 years, this Forum has helped make the Asia- Pacific one of the most consequential and successful regions in the world. We have achieved a great many things, and many greater accomplishments are on our horizon.
I commend all of you for your collaborative efforts in pursuit of timely and engaging agenda.
I commend the inclusive and positive contributions we saw from all of our participating countries.
And I commend you all on not only agreeing to several major resolutions, but for your work in forging new levels of understanding, mutual respect and friendship with your counterparts.
Those resolutions have taken us all one step closer to addressing issues relating to political security and stability, flows of trade and economic growth, and inter-parliamentary cooperation to strengthen the role of women in decision-making for sustainable development.
The proportion of women in decision-making positions and management roles is unacceptably low, and I welcome your efforts to make government, enterprises and institutions throughout the Asia-Pacific more inclusive.
You have discussed and adopted resolutions relating to major international crises, addressing issues like climate change, food security, counter-terrorism, cooperation in preventing and responding to natural disasters, drug control and priorities, nuclear security and non-proliferation.
In the spirit of this meeting, the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF) must continue to take a cooperative approach to political-security, regional economic advancement and efforts to build more prosperous and inclusive societies.
We need to promote more efficient and reliable trade in our region, so that resources, tourism and investment can flow uninterrupted throughout the Asia-Pacific.
And we need to maintain our engagement with the private sector and uphold the sector’s vital role in socioeconomic development in each of our countries.
I would also echo calls made during this forum to offer assistance and grant soft loans to the developing countries among us.
Assistance, for example in the case of human resource development, can build valuable people to people connections and promote cultural exchange – an enormously beneficial tool, especially for our young people.
I believe it also important that we take an in-depth look at ways the APPF can develop the capacity of our young people and find ways to connect them to each other throughout the Asia –Pacific.
Because we owe a responsibility to one another, but an even greater responsibility to those who will one day inherit the institutions we have worked so hard to build.
If we are serious about long-term peace and sustainability, we must get more serious about doing everything we can to prepare future generations to assume the mantle of leadership.
Now before we all say farewell, let me again thank all of you for making the journey to Fiji and attending this year’s forum.
Thank you for the knowledge, experience and expertise you have brought with you to our discussions. And thank you for helping create an atmosphere of friendship, mutual understanding and respect as you all addressed issues critical to all of our people.
I once again convey my best wishes of good health, happiness and great success in your professional and personal lives, and wish you a safe trip back to your home countries.
I trust that your visit to our shores has been memorable and it is my hope you will take fond memories of Fiji back home with you. We hope to see you all back in Fiji soon – whenever you need to take a well-deserved break from your busy lives.
Thank you and God Bless you all.