The Blue Pacific continent is fast becoming an increasingly contested space, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielagaoi said as he urged Pacific nations to protect their interests from “big powers pursing strategies to widen and extend their reach, inculcating a far-reaching sense of insecurity.”
“As the Blue Pacific, we have a powerful voice that we can take beyond our immediate region – to voice the concerns and interests of the Pacific around the world. That is why we have learnt to engage pro-actively in every opportunity that comes our way,” Tuilaepa said during a public lecture at the University of Otago on Leadership and the Blue Pacific Identity.
The Samoan Prime Minister said Pacific countries need to be reminded of the potential of the Blue Pacific identity. “Friendly relations Pacific nations have with some partners are construed by others as compromising and obtrusive – prompting neighbors to speak up for us to ward off the influences we are supposedly too naïve to recognize.”
“The reality is stark – we are seeing invasion and interest in the form of strategic manipulation,” said the Samoan leader, who is current chair of the Pacific Islands Forum. “We need to promote our values premises on peace, stability and security. Our geographical isolation and insularity no longer shields or protects us from the increasingly complex and dynamic security challenges – transnational crime, nuclear proliferation, challenges to sovereignty and humanitarian crisis.”