|Ratu Epeli Nailatkau, right, during courtesy call on President Mori. (photo by Bill Jaynes)|
His Excellency Ratu Epelei Nailatkau, President of the Republic of Fiji, made his first official visit to the FSM on April 17-19, 2014 as a part of President Nailtikau’s tour to the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) to convey Fiji’s appreciation during this transitional period in the shaping of Fiji’s New Constitution and to reaffirm Fiji’s pledge towards building closer ties with its Pacific neighbors. The President has already made official visits to Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Nauru, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste. He recently visited the Republic of Palau, Guam and the Republic of Marshal Islands.
His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau received a special welcome upon his arrival with a water salute by Aircraft Rescue Firefighter (ARF) and an Honor Guard by FSM National Police and Pohnpei State Police on the tarmac. Mr. President was received at plane site by Secretary of Foreign Affairs Honorable Lorin S. Robert, Deputy Secretary Samson Pretrick, Ambassador Gerson Jackson, Acting Assistant Secretary Brendy Carl and Deputy Assistant Secretary Shanty-Sigrah-Asher. He was then escorted to Vice President Alik L. Alik who then led him through the Honor Guard. President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau paid a courtesy call on His Excellency Emanuel Mori, President of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Speaker of the 18th Congress, The Honorable Dohsis Halbert, in the late afternoon of his day of arrival. The courtesy call with the President was also attended by Vice President Alik Alik and cabinet members. During the call, President Mori extended greetings and warm welcome to the President of Fiji and his delegation and expressed his appreciation that is the first Fijian Head of State visit to the FSM and that it signifies an important milestone in the bilateral relations between FSM and Fiji as it represents a significant step in our continuing efforts to further build on the existing cooperative and amicable bilateral relationship between our two countries and peoples. President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau responded by thanking FSM for the hospitality extended to him and his delegation and further thanked FSM for their continued support to Fiji and for hosting a small Fiji community here in Pohnpei. The President also confirmed that Fiji’s election will be held as scheduled on September 17, 2014, the first genuinely democratic election in Fiji’s history of equal votes and equal values. The call was concluded with President Mori extending an invitation to President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and his delegation to a welcoming reception that he would later host at Cliff Rainbow in honor of his visit.
The reception began at 6:30pm with a Sakau Ceremony; in attendance were President Mori and First Lady Mori, Vice President Alik Alik and Madam Alik, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Cabinet Members and other guests from FSM and Fiji. Included in the program were remarks from both Presidents. President Mori congratulated President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau on his leadership role in ensuring positive progress to Fiji’s “Roadmap” for returning to parliamentary election which is scheduled for September 17, 2014. President Mori also thanked the Government of Fiji for hosting over 30 students and citizens residing in Fiji, including diplomatic representatives, families, and the mission.. Finally, he conveyed that this visit attests to the strong friendship between the FSM and Fiji, and reiterated his gratitude for the contributions he has made in further strengthening it. President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau conveyed “warmest greetings from the Government and the People of Fiji and states that, “It is a great honor for me to be making this official visit to the Federated States of Micronesia. And it is an even greater pleasure to be amongst friends, with common values and a common destiny as Pacific Neighbors.” He further calls on FSM’s continued support and engagement as Fiji continues its leadership role at the international fronts, as the chair of the governing board of the United Nations Development Program and in a position to push our collective agenda forward. He continued by stating that, “The Pacific Small Island Developing States – which has our abiding support – are placing the issues that matter to us before the United Nations and its various agencies. It is the best chance that we have of getting our needs and concerns heard and addressed. Because only by working together closely and speaking with one voice can we hope to be heard above the competing interests of other nations”. The President further states that he looks forward to launch the FIJI Volunteer Service Scheme under the FSM-Fiji MOU on development cooperation.
On Friday, April 18, President and his delegation undertook a site visit to Nan Madol with Secretary of Education, Dr. Rufino Mauricio leading the tour. On April 19, Vice President Alik Alik hosted a lunch for the President and his delegation before they departed Pohnpei.