Vanuatu and France to hold border talks

Bathymetric map showing the boundary of the New Hebrides tectonic plate and the Australian plate. Matthew and Hunter sit on the New Hebrides plate, while New Caledonia sits on the Australian plate.

Bathymetric map showing the boundary of the New Hebrides tectonic plate and the Australian plate. Matthew and Hunter sit on the New Hebrides plate, while New Caledonia sits on the Australian plate.

Hunter Island

Hunter Island

The big outstanding issue with France — Matthew and Hunter Islands — is soon to be the subject of discussion in border talks which will take place at the Forum Fisheries Agency in Honiara. PM Charlot Salwai revealed this after the PM had held discussions with the French Minister of Overseas Territories, Annick Girardin, in Apia at the Pacific Islands Forum Leader’s meeting earlier this month. The border talks will be held in October. Vanuatu requires that the Ocean Policy covering climate and other issues be consulted as regional issues. Despite this, France and Fiji have already signed a border treaty without Vanuatu. Such a treaty will also be necessary between Fiji and Vanuatu.

Matthew Island

Matthew Island

PM Salwai pointed out that France was aware of Vanuatu’s Independence from 1980, and he said that Vanuatu should have been consulted when Fiji and France signed their border agreement. “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 senators of New Caledonia who expressed support for our positions last year”, said the Prime Minister. He mentioned two times this year when his government had taken up the issue with Paris — in January — and at MSG meetings. PM Salwai hoped the issue could be broached in this year’s United Nations General Assembly beginning in a few days.

The Supreme Court has dismissed a claim by Read the rest of this entry »

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Australian coal is sinking our Pacific islands

Coal burning power station. Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel and a major conributor to climate change. File photo/Pixabay

Australia, the world’s largest coal exporter, is actively trying to undermine the Pacific islands by continuing to promote coal – the dirtiest of the fossil fuels that are driving the world’s warming climate. 

As Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull prepares to meet with his island counterparts this week in Apia, Samoa, Pacific civil society groups say Australia’s promotion of coal puts their communities at risk.

Pacific island countries, including some of the world’s most vulnerable low-lying islands, are demanding greater ambition to tackle climate change and renewed political commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The Vanuatu flag flies at a 2014 blockade of Australian coal export port Newcastle by Pacific islanders campaigning against climate change. Photo: 350.org

The Vanuatu flag flies at a 2014 blockade of Australian coal export port Newcastle by Pacific islanders campaigning against climate change. Photo: 350.org

On Thursday, Pacific Islands Forum leaders will consider a ‘united’ Pacific voice to take to the COP23 climate negotiations in November.  At those talks – to be held in Bonn, Germany – the world’s eyes will be on the Pacific as Fiji takes over as president of the UN climate negotiations, the first time a small island developing state has held this important role.

However, members of the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN) say there is a low probability of an authentic ‘united’ Pacific voice being forged in Apia, with Australia’s presence and economic interests being historically responsible for watering-down regional climate declarations.

Australia’s continued promotion of coal – the dirtiest of the fossil fuels that are driving the world’s warming climate — jeopardises negotiation outcomes, and ultimately the safety of the entire Pacific region.

Maina Talia, from the Tuvalu Climate Action Network (TuCAN), said Pacific island leaders Read the rest of this entry »


New Chinese-built Prime Minister’s Office handed over to Vanuatu Govt

Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and Chinese Ambassador Liu Quan at the opening of the new Prime Minister's Office complex yesterday. Photo: CullwickJ/Twitter

Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and Chinese Ambassador Liu Quan at the opening of the new Prime Minister’s Office complex yesterday. Photo: CullwickJ/Twitter

The new Prime Minister’s Office was officially opened Read the rest of this entry »


Visa-free travel between Vanuatu and South Korea a boost for tourism

South Korea flag

The Vanuatu and South Korea governments are planning a simplified, visa-free entry procedure for visitors from one country to the other. The Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament have been in the Philippines for the meeting that marks 50 years of ASEAN, which has been widely covered by world media.

Reserve Bank Governor Simeon Athy has drawn attention to the importance of the new Read the rest of this entry »


China opens new embassy in Port Vila to mark 35 years of diplomatic relations

China's new embassy in Pango, Port Vila. Photo: © vanuatudigest.com

China’s new embassy in Nambatri, Port Vila. Photo: © vanuatudigest.com

A new Chinese Embassy building has opened at Nambatri. Ambassador Liu Quan and Prime Minister Charlot Salwai unveiled a plaque at the vast premises on Tuesday marking the opening of the landmark building we all have been watching grow in Vila. It cements the 35th anniversary of Read the rest of this entry »


Law requires election of new President by July 3, says Electoral Commission

Vanuatu flag

The election of a new President will take place on July 3. Nominations are expected by close of business next Wednesday. The Electoral College comprises the 52 Members of Parliament, Presidents of the six Local Government Councils and the leaders of the three municipalities.

The Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Martin Tete, has made a singular effort to advise the general public on the need for the quick calling of the election to choose a new President. The laws involved require Read the rest of this entry »


President Lonsdale farewelled on streets of Port Vila—and around the world

Throngs of mourners turn out on Port Vila's main street to farewell President Baldwin Lonsdale. Photo: Vanuatu Daily Post

Throngs of mourners turn out on Port Vila’s main street to farewell President Baldwin Lonsdale. Photo: Vanuatu Daily Post

Motlap chiefs from President Lonsdale's home island of Motalava pay their respects to his casket. Photo: Holy Bule/Facebook

Motlap chiefs from President Lonsdale’s home island of Motalava pay their respects to his casket. Photo: Holy Bule/Facebook

President Lonsdale's casket is carried by Vanuatu Mobile Force members to a plane for his final journey home to Motalava. Photo: Twitter/@raetlomi

President Lonsdale’s casket is carried by Vanuatu Mobile Force members to a plane for his final journey home to Motalava. Photo: Twitter/@raetlomi

The Heads of States of Australia, Fiji and New Zealand came in person to farewell President Lonsdale. The passing of Vanuatu’s Head of State has also been marked around the world over the last few days. Here’s just a few examples:

In Sydney, Australia:

In Perth, Australia: Read the rest of this entry »