New York, NY (September 24, 2013): As part of his heavy program of activities while in New York for the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), President Manny Mori met with a leadership delegation of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) led by Ambassador Peter Rosenblatt to share ideas and exchange views on issues of common interest. The annual FSM-AJC meeting has become a recurrent and prominent item on the President’s agenda in the margins of the UNGA in recognition of AJC’s informal but active facilitative role in what has been described as a Triangular Partnership involving the FSM, Israel, and the United States.
With chapters in scores of cities around the world, the American Jewish Committee is an advocacy group for Israel. The organization is also known for its promotion of democracy, the rule of law, and humanitarianism and human rights.
President Mori reiterated the importance of the FSM’s special friendship with the US and Israel. Ambassador Rosenblatt, who was the chief US negotiator for the Compact of Free Association during President Jimmy Carter’s administration, expressed AJC’s profound appreciation for the FSM Government’s support of Israel, especially in the fora of the UN, and Israel’s friendship with the Micronesian people.
Rosenblatt asked President Mori what he considered to be the FSM’s top-priority challenge. “Climate change, sea-level rise in particular,” Mori promptly responded, further elaborated on the “specific food security challenges” that the low–lying islands of the FSM are already facing.
President Mori also identified three specific challenges with respect to the Amended Compact that necessitate renewed commitment and cooperation of the parties to the treaty to address. One of these relates to the requirement that the US Executive Branch must conduct 5-year reviews of applicable provisions of the Amended Compact and transmit its report to the US Congress. The aim of the 5-year reviews is to ensure that the FSM attains self-reliance by identifying unanticipated obstacles or emerging needs including suggested solutions. President Mori’s concern is that the first Compact Review, which is required by US statute, seems to have been overlooked.
Another concern raised was the poor performance and underfunded corpus of the Trust Fund created by the Amended Compact. President Mori stated that the “projections used for the Fund were too ambitious right from the start.” The level of earnings that is anticipated to be accrued by 2023 will not be enough to provide adequate public services and support economic growth. The economic and financial provisions of the Amended Compact are stipulated to end in 2023.
Flexibility in the “Re-Balancing” of Compact sector grant allocation is the third challenge that President Mori feels should be addressed as well. He reiterated that the FSM supports the designation of education and health as the two top objectives of the Compact in terms of grant allocation. Yet, he believes that the collective experience of the first ten years of the 20-year Amended Compact funding demonstrates the imperative of “re-balancing” funding allocation to also take into consideration infrastructure, growing the economy and tax base, for instance. “We must recognize the reality that we have seen in the first half of the Amended Compact,” President Mori urged.
In looking forward to addressing these challenges and the stipulated termination of the Compact sector grants, Mori was pleased in informing the AJC representatives about the establishment of the Committee on 2023. The Committee is comprised of members from the Executive Branches and Legislative Branches of both the National and State Governments.
In the spirit of the Triangular Partnership, President Mori also shared his vision for a comprehensive cooperation arrangement between the FSM and the State of Israel. Expressing his appreciation with the interest that Israel has shown in the welfare of the Micronesian people, Mori suggested that the two countries seize the reality of the convergence of FSM’s needs and Israel’s area of renown expertise to design and tailor a cooperation arrangement that would take into consideration the FSM’s priority need areas such as food security (i.e., agriculture/farming, aqua-culture/fish farming, sustainable drinking water supply for the remote and rural areas) and alternative/renewable energy, as well as human resource development and humanitarian assistance cooperation.
Through Ambassador Rosenblatt, President Mori thanked the AJC for its long-standing and ongoing support. He encouraged the AJC to continue its support of the Triangular Partnership. Rosenblatt was accompanied to the meeting by the AJC Pacific Islands Task Force Chair, Marlene Altman; Board of Governors members Bill Seigel, and Zev Wexler, as well as seven other members: Shira Lowenberg, Lyon (Lenny) Roth, Leonard Wien, Andy Hall, Jeff Eisenberg, Suzanne Lasky Gerard, and Joanna Lieberman.
Sitting with President Mori were Secretary of Foreign Affairs Lorin S Robert; FSM Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Jane J Chigiyal; FSM Ambassador to the US Asterio R Takesy; Deputy Permanent Representative Jeemer S Lippwe; and Deputy Chief of Mission James A Naich. The meeting took place at the new FSM Permanent Mission in New York City.