NOUMEA, New Caledonia—With the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste due to officially join the Pacific Community, talks are taking place in Dili this week between senior officials from the government and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.
Timor-Leste is in the process of becoming the first new member of the Pacific Community since 1983, alongside all 22 Pacific Island countries and territories and four of the organization’s founding members, Australia, France, New Zealand, and the United States of America.
SPC Deputy Director-General, Cameron Diver, and Chief of Staff, Patricia Sachs-Cornish, are due to meet with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Hon Hernâni Coelho, and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Hon Roberto Sarmento De Oliveria Soares, as well as the National Director for International Organization Affairs, Aleixo Alves Gusmão.
On the agenda will be progress with Timor-Leste formally acceding to the Pacific Community’s founding treaty, the Canberra Agreement.
Diver and Sachs-Cornish will also meet officials from the Directorate-General of Multilateral Affairs and the Directorate National of International Organizations, amongst other government entities, to discuss existing and planned development support by SPC and its partners in sectors ranging from disaster risk reduction to agriculture, oceans and trade.
Timor-Leste already benefits from SPC support through the European Development Fund (EDF 10), such as training for the agriculture sector on production and post-harvest practices, trade standards and certification, and improving the country’s access to research on climate-smart crops and livestock feed in the Pacific region.
In another example, a Timor-Leste manager of the European Union-funded Building Safety and Resilience project will shortly be appointed by the National Disaster Management Directorate, within the Ministry of Social Solidarity, to work closely with SPC on reducing the nation’s vulnerability to natural hazards.
Timor-Leste is part of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States. By joining the Pacific Community, Timor-Leste will open the prospect of new programmes involving all Pacific ACP States, allowing for a more integrated approach to the development challenges facing this group.
Provided Timor-Leste formally accedes to the founding treaty as expected, its membership will be formally recognized at the Pacific Community Conference in November 2015 in Niue.
Timor-Leste’s entry has been warmly endorsed by existing Pacific Community members. (SPC)