Pacific engagement must tackle climate change and avoid militarisation

Aotearoa must retain its independent foreign policy in the Pacific region, the Green Party says.

“We are concerned that an opaque joint statement from the United States and New Zealand governments suggests greater military cooperation in the Pacific but does not specify the types of activities or deployments we could be committing to,” Green Party foreign affairs spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman said.

“The Pacific faces existential threats from climate change and biodiversity loss, and the focus of New Zealand’s diplomatic relationships must be empowering our Pacific neighbours to tackle these crises through genuinely supportive measures, such as New Zealand’s $1.3 billion climate fund.

“Any support or partnership with the US military must be well defined - such as disaster relief or fisheries monitoring - so New Zealanders can be assured that we will not be dragged into great power political games between the likes of China and the United States which are not in our interests, or the interests of our Pacific community.

“Though the United States has been an ally to Aotearoa in many ways, it is also a nation that has waged wars, conducted mass illegal spying across the globe, and has backed other governments and organisations which act against our core values of human rights and the international rule of law. 

“We renew the call for our Government to use all its diplomatic powers to implore allies such as the United States to commit to Third World debt alleviation. This would be a far more meaningful way for our most powerful allies to help Pacific states overcome the economic challenges caused by the COVID pandemic. If debt was alleviated, Pacific nations would gain greater economic security and sovereignty, reducing the influence of wealthy countries in the region.

“Aotearoa must uphold its independent foreign policy, reflecting our commitment to enhance the mana and values of our region.”

ENDS

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