Federated States of Micronesia citizens residing in the CNMI have acquitted themselves well compared to their compatriots in the U.S. mainland, Hawaii, and even Guam, according to Asterio Takesy, the FSM’s ambassador to Washington, D.C.
“The FSM residents here in the CNMI are probably the most mature in terms of economic stability. Per capita they own more houses than any of the FSM residents in the U.S. mainland, Hawaii, or Guam,” he said.
Takesy, who was on Saipan last week to attend the funeral of his mother-in-law, added that FSM citizens in the CNMI have also assimilated well with the island community, compared to other parts of the U.S.
“We need to recall that this started during the Trust Territory days. So they are very integrated into the CNMI society. They have relatives here and there’s been inter-marriage. There’s a much better communication here, in my view, than for instance in Guam, Hawaii, and of course the U.S. mainland.”
Takesy, who lived on Saipan for seven years in the 1970s, had the opportunity to meet some 20 of his countrymen last Tuesday and their primary concern was employment or lack of it in the CNMI.
“We talked about employment. I was made aware of the situation here and my advice to those who cannot find employment is to actually volunteer first to be able to contribute.”
Asked if he is content with the FSM’s current relationship with the U.S., Takesy said the Compact of Free Association has worked out well for both countries.
“Marshalls, Palau, and the FSM have the same political relationship with the U.S. One of the compelling factors for choosing free association is the realization that we cannot grow the economy as quickly, especially if you factor in the population growth. We were growing at 3 percent and the economy was growing 1.5 percent. So obviously there was 50 percent to worry about. So this was a big factor in the negotiations and continues to be. It has worked out. In my view it’s been one of the most successful foreign policies of the United States and the FSM.”
Being an independent country, the FSM can freely open diplomatic relations with any country, including an economic power like China.
“We trade freely with the Pacific and with China. We have diplomatic relations with PRC [People’s Republic of China] and the rest of the world and yet we’re able to work with the U.S. and receive domestic assistance.”
As for his job description as FSM ambassador, Takesy said his main responsibility is to see that the implementation of the compact is going as smoothly as possible on both sides, the U.S. and the FSM.
“I’m also trying to promote private investment from the United States in Micronesia. I think it’s a win-win situation. We receive a great deal of assistance from the U.S., there should be mutual benefit from this relationship.”