Taylor: Forum rift likely to draw 'geostrategic' interference

Updated: Jun 1

Former PIF secretary-general appeals to five nations to stay in the fold

Dame Meg Taylor

Koror-- Dame Meg Taylor, who has concluded her term as secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum, appealed to the exiting member-countries to stay in the regional bloc, saying the Pacific is stronger as a group.

“I believe in the ocean-continent and the blue Pacific, and the strength of the group," Taylor said.

Taylor, who took the helm of the Forum in 2014, completed her stint on May 26 and was succeeded by Cook Islands former prime minister Henry Puna.

She left the position with regrets about the Forum split. Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and Kiribati have begun the one-year exit process in protest against the Forum's decision to pick Puna over their candidate, Gerald Zackios, a Marshallese diplomat.

While acknowledging the cultural and political differences among members, Taylor warned of the consequences should these issues continue to widen a rift, into which special interest groups will squeeze themselves.

"If we divide into our sub-regions, and then get played off by geostrategic interests, our own interests as a collective will be severely undermined. And that's the way I look at it," Taylor said in an interview with Pacific Island Times.

Holding a region together was a challenging task, she said. "And there are natural affiliations, and cultural affiliations, and political affiliations. But the role of the region as a Pacific Island forum is the interest of the whole," Taylor said.

Puna earlier announced a plan to hold a political dialog to try to resolve the crisis in the Forum.