Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Developments in the Pacific - visit to Tonga

After spending the last week in Tonga at the 38th Pacific Island Forum, I have returned to Australia full of hope. From this visit, I have realised that, by working together, States can promote genuine democratic values and operate as a real instrument for change when fundamental values are not being respected.

It is in this spirit that at the meeting last week, the Pacific Forum leaders endorsed the conclusions of the group of wise men and requested the interim Government in Fiji restore democracy in the shortest possible time. In the past, Europe has helped to restore democratic values in states like Spain and Greece. It is for this reason that it is so important that we help the Pacific Forum to strengthen its status and maintain peace and stability in the region.

The European Union has been active over recent months, using our mechanisms of cooperation with the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) regions to convince the Fijian interim government to restore democracy according to a strict agenda set out in the recommendations of the Pacific Forum’s group of wise men. This was underlined and raised during the Pacific Forum meeting in Tonga. We Europeans are committed to using our soft power wherever we can in the world to help democracy to progress.

My return also occurred at the same time as progress in the reform of the EU and its institutions. Here, I am confident that the historical agreement reached in the European Council last week to approve the new Treaty will soon produce one of its expected results, namely to improve Europe’s role in foreign affairs, and to allow us to make an even more positive contribution, not only for Europeans, but within the world as a whole.

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