President Christian Addresses 71st Session of United Nations General Assembly

Press Release #1609-10
Palikir, Pohnpei FSM Information Services
September 26, 2016

September 21, 2016 (New York, New York) - Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) President Peter Christian delivered FSM’s national address before the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). He focused on themes of global peace and security, reform and modernization of the UN, climate change, and oceans.

President Christian began his remarks by congratulating Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the UN, on his election to the Presidency of the UNGA for the 71st session, calling it a historic occasion for Pacific islands. He next thanked the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is finishing his term this year, for being a champion of many issues important to Small Island Developing States (SIDS), such as increasing political momentum to address climate change.

President Christian condemned the spread of terrorism worldwide. He said it pained him to see millions of innocent civilians desperately seeking shelter from the turmoil of war. He called on the UN Security Council for a stronger response to this global crisis. He also challenged the United States and Russia, as well as the Syrian government, to do more to stop the violence in Syria. The President also condemned North Korea’s ongoing provocative actions and rhetoric, which could threaten the peace and long term stability of the Asia Pacific region.

The President called for reform of the UN, citing the need for modernization of principles and practices as well as technologies. The UN must focus on preventive diplomacy around the entire world and not only address hot spots; it should act more as a peacekeeper than a peacemaker.

With respect to the UN Security Council, the President emphasized that the Council must adapt to modern times and be reflective of contemporary geopolitical realities. He reiterated the FSM’s support for the G4 countries (Brazil, Germany, India and Japan) to become permanent members of the Council. He also expressed support for appointment of a Special Representative in the UN system to be dedicated to climate change and security.

President Christian observed that a number of milestone agreements were adopted this year: on disaster risk reduction, financing for development, the 2030 Development Agenda, and the Paris Agreement on climate change. He said that integrating the sustainable development goals (SDGs) into national plans will be challenging for SIDS and that they must be fully included in the relevant UN processes.

On oceans, the President explained that the FSM is custodian of the some of the world’s richest marine resources. Under the Micronesia Challenge, the FSM has pledged to conserve 30% of its near shore marine areas. These conservation efforts also enable FSM’s sustainable use of its oceanic fisheries.

On climate change, President Christian acknowledged that progress has been made in the last 25 years, but not enough. The President called attention to the ratification of the Paris Agreement by more than 30 countries, including virtually all Pacific islands. This raises hope that the agreement will enter into force soon, although implementation will require higher levels of both climate mitigation and climate finance ambition. Regarding the proposed amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs, President Christian reiterated his thanks to co-sponsors and other supporters who have helped bring the process of negotiating an HFC amendment to its final stages.

The President welcomed the progress in diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba and urged an acceleration in the process towards lifting the embargo on Cuba. He noted that the FSM and Cuba have also established diplomatic relations. President Christian also applauded the peace accord in Colombia and offered his sincere hopes for its success, punctuating this sentiment by saying “Viva Colombia!”

As Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, President Christian concluded his speech with a brief report of the 47th meeting of the Forum. He related outcomes of the meeting with respect to the themes of oceans, health, human rights, fisheries (including illegal fishing), partnership and climate change, all of which are contained in the Pacific Islands Forum Communiqué. He also reported that Forum leaders endorsed the Pohnpei Oceans Statement: A Course to Sustainability.

President Christian’s full statement and video of his speech is available at: https://gadebate.un.org/en/71/micronesia-federated-states

PRESIDENT CHRISTIAN ADDRESSES 3rd OUR OCEAN CONFERENCE

Press Release #1609-07
Palikir, Pohnpei FSM Information Services
September 21, 2016

Washington, DC, USA - President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) Peter Christian delivered remarks to a high-level audience during the first day of the 3rd Our Ocean conference, hosted by United States Secretary of State John Kerry. The purpose of the annual Our Ocean conference is to catalyze actions to protect our shared ocean resources and empower a new generation to lead the way toward a healthy and sustainable ocean.

The President was the first to speak on the panel entitled Global Ocean Leadership, which also included Mauritius Prime Minister Ameenah Gurib-Fakim and four Vice Presidents and Foreign Ministers. He set the scene by relating the outcomes of the 47th Pacific Island Forum (PIF) Leaders’ Meeting held in Pohnpei last week, including the Forum Communiqué, which contains an Annex entitled the Pohnpei Ocean Statement: A Course to Sustainability. This statement emphasizes the centrality of oceans for Pacific peoples and livelihoods, and it highlights the importance of achieving the targets under Sustainable Development Goal 14 to secure the health and productivity of the oceans and the wellbeing of future generations. As current Chair of the Forum, he also reiterated his welcome to the newest full members of the Forum, French Polynesia and New Caledonia.

For audience members at the Our Ocean conference who were unfamiliar with the FSM, the President said in jest that one way to get to there would be to board a flight from Hawaii to Sydney and, about 8 hours into the flight, jump out of the right side of the plane and land right in Micronesia. Further to the FSM’s geography, he said that the land mass of the islands is small, but the area of ocean that the FSM governs is vast enough to comfortably fit the entire United States. He reflected on how fishing practices in FSM waters have changed with the advent of new technologies, especially those that allow fish to be frozen and stored. This has not only caused stress on coastal resources and biodiversity, but, in some cases, it has also diminished neighborly relations, which were once generous with respect to sharing daily catch.

President Christian concluded his remarks with an emphasis on the connection between climate change and ocean health. In this regard, he thanked representatives of the global community for their support to successfully adopt the Paris Climate Agreement, which the FSM officially ratified on September 15, 2016, in advance of the September 21 United Nations (UN) Secretary General’s high-level event on accelerating the Agreement’s entry into force.

Throughout both days of the Our Ocean conference, an important aspect was the contribution of specific commitments to protect the ocean by many participants, including States, non-governmental organizations, scientific entities and foundations. Between sessions, many representatives of these States and organizations briefly took the floor to verbally announce their commitments. The list of commitments and programs can be found on the Our Ocean website.

On September 14, the evening before the Our Ocean conference commenced, President Christian also delivered remarks at Pacific Day, an event hosted annually by the Pacific embassies in Washington, DC and held at the New Zealand Embassy to the United States. In his remarks entitled “Small Islands, Big Ocean”, he placed a strong emphasis on climate change, referring to it as a “titanic challenge”, and calling on global leaders to stop resisting the science and do the right thing for planet Earth. He also related the key outcomes of the 47th PIF Leaders’ Meeting and highlighted the recent designation of Nan Madol as a World Heritage site by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 

The President’s delegation to Washington, DC, included FSM Secretary of Foreign Affairs Lorin Robert, Secretary of Resources and Development Marion Henry, Secretary of Justice Joses Gallen, Director of Office of Environment and Emergency Management (OEEM) Andrew Yatilman, Executive Director of the National Oceanic Resources Management Authority (NORMA) Eugene Pangelinan, and the President’s Chief of Staff Leo Falcam, Jr.

The 47th Pacific Islands Forum Communiqué is available here:  http://www.forumsec.org/resources/uploads/embeds/file/2016_Forum_Communique_11sept(1).pdf

Annex 3 of the Forum Communiqué, the Pohnpei Ocean Statement: A Course to Sustainability:  http://www.forumsec.org/resources/uploads/embeds/file/Annex%203%20-%20A%20Course%20to%20Sustainability.pdf

The list of commitments made by Our Ocean participants is available here: http://ourocean2016.org/commitments/#commitments-main

Video of Pacific Day (President Christian’s remarks begin at the 31:00 mark), available here: https://www.csis.org/events/pacific-day-2016

 

President Christian joins fellow International Leaders for Paris Agreement signing ceremony

President Christian joins fellow International Leaders for Paris Agreement signing ceremony
 
Press Release #1604-07
Palikir, Pohnpei – FSM Information Services
April 27, 2016
 
On Friday April 22, 2016, President Peter M. Christian participated in the High-level Signature Ceremony for the Paris Agreement at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.  During the Ceremony, President Christian joined representatives from 174 other countries in signing the Agreement, marking the largest number of countries ever to sign an international instrument in a single day.  The Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted the Agreement in Paris last December.  The Agreement is the first universally applicable international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The Agreement commits all of its Parties to keep global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.  The Agreement also provides for enhancing the ability of all countries—particularly developing countries—to deal with the impacts of climate change, including loss and damage.  To achieve these goals, the Agreement provides for climate financing, a new technology framework to support research and development in climate technology, a new capacity building framework to enhance the capability of developing countries to take effective climate change action, and a robust transparency framework to ensure that Parties properly and fully account for the actions they take under the Agreement.  The Agreement will enter into force after at least 55 Parties representing at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions ratify the Agreement.
 
After the signing, President Christian delivered a statement that noted the historic milestone achieved by the international community with the adoption of the Agreement in Paris last year, while underscoring that the true test of the success of the Agreement lies in its implementation, particularly at the domestic level.  President Christian called on all Parties to the Agreement to continuously update our emission reduction targets in order to "achieve nationally beyond what we talk about internationally."  President Christian committed the FSM to take concrete actions in furtherance of its targets, including continuing the FSM's leadership role in advocating for the phase-out of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol.  HFCs are greenhouse gases that are several orders of magnitude more potent than carbon dioxide, and whose phase-out will greatly aid in the fight against climate change.
 
President Christian concluded his statement with a plea to the international community to live up to pledges made in connection with the Agreement.  Calling for international solidarity, President Christian expressed his hope that ours is "the generation of world leaders that not only talked about climate change, but walked the deck of a sinking ship to find and plug the holes to save our ship."
 
Prior to participating in the High-level Signature Ceremony, President Christian visited the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center site in downtown Manhattan, where he laid a wreath in remembrance of the victims of the September 11 attacks.
 
President Christian was accompanied to the High-level Signature Ceremony for the Paris Agreement and to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum by First Lady Maurina Christian, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Lorin S. Robert, Secretary of Justice Joses Gallen, Governor of Chuuk State Johnson Elimo, President Christian's Chief of Staff Leo Falcam, Jr., Ambassador Jane J. Chigiyal, and members of the staff of the Permanent Mission of the Federated States of Micronesia to the United Nations.

Visa-Waiver Agreement Signed Between FSM and European Union

Press Release #1609-08
Palikir, Pohnpei FSM Information Services
September 23, 2016
 
(New York, New York) – The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) Secretary of Foreign Affairs Lorin Robert signed an agreement with representatives of the European Union (EU) that enables short-term visa-free travel to Europe for FSM citizens under most circumstances.
 
The new visa-waiver agreement, which also provides for reciprocal treatment of European citizens who visit the FSM, was signed on the European side by both Slovak Minister of Foreign Affairs Miroslav Lajčák (the current President of the Council of the European Union) and Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship. The signing ceremony, hosted by the Slovak Mission to the United Nations, was also attended by FSM Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) Jeem Lippwe and Second Secretary Martin Zvachula.
 
This agreement makes it possible for FSM and EU citizens to enter each other’s territories and stay without visas for a maximum period of 90 days in any 180-day period. The visa waiver applies to people traveling for almost all purposes (e.g., tourism, international meetings, business meetings, and sporting events), with some minor exceptions, including the category of “carrying out a paid activity”. The visa waiver applying date begun on September 20, 2016.
 
Before the visa waiver came into full swing, in order to travel to most EU countries, FSM citizens had to obtain “Schengen visas” that allowed them to enter the Schengen Area of the EU, which includes all of the EU countries except the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland. The new visa-waiver agreement covers the same area, meaning it does not cover UK and Ireland. Fortunately, a separate agreement with the UK already allows visa-free travel to the UK by FSM citizens. Thus, Ireland remains the only EU country to which FSM citizens cannot travel visa-free.
 
The signing of the visa-waiver agreement was one of the last steps in a process that began in 2014 when the EU adopted a regulation that proposed visa requirements be removed for 17 countries, including 9 Pacific islands. This was a welcome proposal, and bilateral discussions and drafting of the agreement quickly ensued. The agreement will not be final until it is ratified by both the FSM Congress and the European Parliament; however, the visa waiver applies before then on a provisional basis.
 
At the signing ceremony, Secretary Robert, Minister Lajčák and Commissioner Avramopoulos each made brief remarks. Secretary Robert spoke of the longstanding relationship between Micronesian and European peoples, beginning with the first interactions with Spain and then Germany hundreds of years ago. He also highlighted recent cooperation with the European Development Fund, which supported installation of solar photovoltaic systems in all four FSM states. This project enabled electrification of some outer islands for the first time. Commissioner Avramopoulos noted that the visa-waiver agreement would facilitate further cooperation as well as trade and cultural exchanges.
 
Any FSM citizens who have questions about the visa waiver for travel to EU countries may contact the Department of Foreign Affairs (691-320-2641), the FSM Embassy to the United States (+1 202-223-4383) or the FSM Mission to the United Nations (+1 212-697-8370). These numbers and other contact information for Department of Foreign Affairs and all overseas missions and consulates of the FSM is also available here: http://www.fsmgov.org/ovmis.html.

FSM welcomes the Foreign Minister of Sweden Margot Wallstrom

FSM welcomes the Foreign Minister of Sweden Margot Wallstrom 
 
Press Release #1604-06
Palikir, Pohnpei – FSM Information Services
April 20, 2016
 
Palikir, POHNPEI (FSM Information Service) - On Monday, April 11, 2016, Foreign Minister of Sweden, H.E. Margot Wallstrom arrived in the FSM, Pohnpei State. The purpose of her visit was to discuss issues of mutual interest, including climate change, tourism, capacity building, among others, and to also advocate for Sweden’s candidacy to the United Nations Security Council.
 
During Foreign Minister’s visit, she paid courtesy call on the President, Peter M. Christian, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Lorin S. Robert, Secretary of Resources & Development, Marion Henry, Secretary of Health & Social Affairs, Magdalena A. Walter and Director of Environment and Emergency Management, Mr. Andrew Yatilman. 
 
On Tuesday, April 12, 2016 Foreign Minister Wallstrom also met with the regional and international organizations in Pohnpei and visited the Pohnpei Utilities Corporation Hydro-plant and the Coastal Protection as a Hazard Mitigation Measure in Awak community. She ended her day with a meeting with the Pohnpei Women’s Advisory Council (PWAC).
 
Foreign Minister Wallstrom was accompanied by H.E. Mr. Magnus Robach, Ambassador of Sweden to the FSM, who presented his Letter of Credence to President Christian on Friday, April 8, 2016, and five other delegation members. The delegation departed Pohnpei early morning of Wednesday, April 13, 2016.

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