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CHOGM: Malta CHOGM Reiterates Importance Of Commonwealth

Saturday: November 26, 2005

A spectacular opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting in Valetta, the capita of the Mediterranean island of Malta.

Attended by more than 40 world leaders, the ceremony was held at the Mediterranean Conference Centre, formerly a medieval hospital building occupied by the Knights Sacra Infermeria.

Bombed during World War II, the building was fully restored and converted into a state of the art Conference Centre in 1979 - a project that earned it the Europe Nostra Award for superb restoration.

In her opening address, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II made reference to the realities of terrorism and natural disasters in Commonwealth countries.

“These times of trial have brought us together and they have also shown how vulnerable we can be alone and yet how much more we can do together.”

“I pay tribute to the emergency workers from around the Commonwealth who volunteered their time and expertise, while other Commonwealth members contributed the necessary funding to support them.

“This shows how our Commonwealth network can bring resources and results together all over the globe.

The Queen stopped short of qualifying that the Commonwealth was still relevant to all its 53 member countries.

Commonwealth Secretary General, Don McKinnon maintained that the organisation was still “a club that attracted a lot of membership.”

“We may not have the big cheque books and the platoons to send soldiers but we have the moral authority to act on behalf of our members,” said Mr McKinnon.

“Determined and collective action can help us tackle other challenges that cannot be addressed alone, such as the scourge of terrorism, which a threat to us all,” said the Queen.

She thanked all Commonwealth countries that expressed their sympathies for the bombings in London bombings in July.

“We are a colourful spectrum of nations, faiths, cultures and people. Individually we are different and distinct – collectively, we can be strong and effective.”

Only three Pacific leaders are attending CHOGM in Valetta - Samoan Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and Sir Michael Somare of Papua New Guinea, who is also chair of the Pacific Islands Forum and Tongan Prime Minister, Prince Ulukalala Lavaka Ata.

PACNEWS has established that Fiji, Solomon Islands have important parliament sessions in their capitals, thus the absence of their prime ministers. They are represented by Foreign Affairs Minister, Kaliopate Tavola and Solomon Islands Deputy Prime Minister, Snyder Rini.

Tuvalu is represented by its Governor General, Reverend Filomea Telito and Kiribati by its minister for environment, Martin Tofinga.

Vanuatu’s Deputy Prime Minister, Sato Kilman is attending on behalf of Prime Minister Ham Lini….PNS

 

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