EUROPEAN UNION CONDOLENCE MESSAGE ON THE PASSING OF GRAND CHIEF SIR MICHAEL THOMAS SOMARE
Bereaved Nation, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the European Union, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the people of Papua New Guinea and the Somare family on the passing of Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare.
Sir Michael Somare was a gigantic figure in the history of Papua New Guinea and the Pacific. As the architect of his country’s independence, he could be proud of his legacy: a strong parliamentary democracy, a growing economy with immense resources and potential, and a respected actor of the international community.
True to its fundamental values, the European Union would firstly honour the commitment to democracy that Sir Michael Somare demonstrated during his five decades of public service. Under his leadership, despite many challenges, Papua New Guinea became one of the most continuous democracies in the developing world.
Under Sir Michael Somare, Papua New Guinea also became the champion of another global cause very dear to the European Union, which is the fight against Climate Change. Thus, Papua New Guinea was the initiator of the international carbon trading system and a committed member of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations.
Sir Michael Somare has achieved for his country too many “firsts” to be listed, and from our humble European perspective we would only add that under his visionary premiership Papua New Guinea was the first Pacific country to sign the interim Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union in 2009, thus providing a model of growth through trade for the rest of the Pacific Islands.
Indeed, throughout his long and fruitful life, the Grant Chief has been a giant not only for his nation but also for the whole Pacific Region. Besides his legacy of nation building, for us, the international partners, the Grand Chief will always remain a model of regional peace and consensus building, the Melanesian way. He was not only the man who brought 1,000 tribes together into one nation, but also as a regional leader key to the evolution of the Pacific Island Forum and the Melanesian Spearhead Group. Sir Michael Somare’s philosophy of “friend to all and enemy to none” rightfully became the foreign policy credo of his country.
Since the European Union is a firm supporter of peace and reconciliation, it is also relevant to remember the role Sir Michael Somare played in the Bougainville Peace Process. In 2002 when he became again Prime Minister, he continued the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and oversaw the formation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
While the Father of the Nation starts his journey towards eternity, his legacy should leave on!
Sir Michael's passing signals not only the end but also the beginning of an era, an era when his legacy of dedicated statesmanship, democracy, conciliation, harmony and fight for global causes, such as gender equality and climate change, will have to be continued by his children, the people of Papua New Guinea. This is both your privilege and responsibility, and you can count of the full support of the European Union.
Again, in this time of mourning, please accept our profound sympathies! Thank you!
Ambassador/Head of Delegation