Carlot tells of “right” over Mathew, Hunter
Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Alfred Carlot has become the first ever Minister since Independence from Britain and France almost 32 years ago, to urge his French counterpart, Alain Juppe in Mainland France to recognise Vanuatu’s traditional claim over Mathew and Hunter Islands on Tuesday last week.
Writing from the Brussels-based Vanuatu Embassy in the Capital of Belgium and the Seat of European Parliament of the 27-member countries of the European Union, Shirley Joy reported the Minister as pointing out to his French Counterpart that the two islands “constitute an integral part of the Vanuatu archipelago and naturally form part of our national territory and sovereignty”.
Joy said while the French Government has expressed its own stand on the two islands, the people and the Government of Vanuatu see the Matthew and Hunter Islands as part of Tafea Province in the Southern Islands of the Vanuatu archipelago.
She said for this reason, the Minister said there is an urgent need now more than ever before for Paris and Port Vila to re –examine and re- evaluate their efforts at the technical level with a view to reaching a long lasting and a mutually satisfactory outcome on this matter.
In his response, France’s Foreign Minister Juppe said a scientific team is currently considering this matter and urged Vanuatu to establish a “joint working group” between the two countries with a view to expeditiously work towards a workable solution to the future ownership of the Islands of Matthew and Hunter.
Minister Carlot’s delegation to Paris was made up of the Acting Director of Foreign Affairs, Johnny Koanapo, Head of Ocean and Maritime Affairs in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Tony Tevi and Vanuatu Ambassador to the European Union who is also accredited to France, Roy Mickey Joy.
In welcoming his Vanuatu counterpart to the Quai D’ Orsay which is the Seat of the French Foreign Ministry in Paris, France’s Foreign Minister Juppe said France is pleased that the Vanuatu Minister of Foreign Affairs is visiting Paris at this time as it has been a long while since Quai Dorsay last received a visiting Vanuatu Minister.
The Foreign Minister spoke of the importance that France attaches to Minister Carlot’s visit at this point and reiterated the very healthy bilateral relations that exists between Paris and Port Vila. He added that while the two countries’ relations has been very positive and encouraging, there are indeed a number of issues of concern affecting them which he feels, must be addressed as a matter of priority.
In his reply, Minister Carlot thanked the French Government for the warm welcome shown to his delegation and joined the French Senior Statesman to confirm the significance of the French/Vanuatu relations.
In addition he said that while other diplomatic partners have either re-located out of Port Vila or moved away completely in recent times, France must be congratulated for its stance in maintaining a very strong diplomatic presence in Port Vila. “This is a sign of a long term commitment and friendship that France accords to Vanuatu,” said Minister Carlot.
Minister Carlot said his Government is very grateful for all the financial support that France has allocated to assist in the hosting of the forthcoming ACP- EU Joint Council of Ministers Meeting in Port Vila in June of this year, the technical and financial assistance that Vanuatu continues to receive from France through the framework of the Commission Mixte, a special high level troika that exist between Paris, Noumea and Port Vila and focuses principally on France’s development efforts and budgetary support to the Islands.
Finally Carlot capitalised on the occasion to confirm to his French counterpart that despite Regional media reports regarding Abkhazia and South Ossetia his Government has not established any formal relationships with these States.
The Minister’s delegation is expected back in Capital early this week.