Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has urged the heads of Solomon Islands foreign missions of keeping within the confines of their crucial role of representing the interest of the government and people of Solomon Islands.
He made the reminder when opening the three-day Solomon Islands Heads of Missions and National Stakeholders’ Consultation in Honiara Tuesday morning.
The theme of the meeting is ‘Strengthening Solomon Islands engagement with the International Community.’
The Prime Minister said the interest of the Solomon Islands Government and people is guided by government policies hence it is important that the country’s heads of foreign missions are fully versed with these policies to be effective in their ambassadorial role.
“You occupy a very strategic position in our government system and that is representing the interest of the government and people of Solomon Islands in your country of posting.
“Of course that interest is guided by government policies and it is important therefore that you are fully versed with government policies in order for you to be effective in representing that interest abroad.
“As a government, I expect all missions to comply with government policies.
“All I’m saying here is our foreign policy should be shaped by domestic imperatives and I will not hesitate to agree to what former US President Jimmy Carter said many years ago: “Human rights are the soul of our foreign policy because human rights are the very soul of nationhood.”
The Prime Minister referred to the issue of West Papua as a one that clearly demonstrated a mismatch between the relevant government policy and the advise rendered by government officials.
He said prior to the 46th Pacific Islands Forum in Port Moresby last year, government officials had advised the government that the position it was to take on the issue would be unpopular however it turned to be the most popular on the streets in Port Vila, Port Moresby and Honiara.
Prime Minister Sogavare said he understands the importance of handling the issue of West Papua with utmost cautiousness and that is exactly where the art of diplomacy should be strategically applied to advance the interest of the Solomon Islands Government and people.
“Truly there are no shortcuts to any victory. You must commit yourselves to the painstaking work of foreign policy hour by hour and if not year by year,” he added.
The Prime Minister said there were also differing views from government officials on the Solomon Islands Government Foreign Policy on Israel and more specifically the votes Solomon Islands is taking at the United Nations that affect Israel.
However, the Prime Minister said the (Solomon Islands) government maintains its common stand on the international arena on the issues of human rights violation, climate change, world peace and stability, terrorism, fight against transnational crime, illegal arms trading and human trafficking, refugees and trade and investment.
“We take a strong stand on these issues just to mention a few because we are blessed with a very peaceful corner of the world, sharing with 12 other countries that make up the Pacific Islands Forum nations and we would like to keep it peaceful.”