Tue, Feb 01, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Chen praises Solomon Islands

HISTORICAL LESSON The president lauded the Solomon Islands for moving past an era of ethnic strife and achieving reconciliation, and said it was a model for Taiwan

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER, IN GUAM

President Chen Shui-bian, left, raises his glass to Sir Allen Kemakeza, Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, right, after signing a joint declaration yesterday.


During the last day of his visit to the Solomon Islands yesterday, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) delivered a speech at the South Pacific nation's parliament, trumpeting the importance of reconciliation and cooperation.

Praising the Solomon Islands for its decision to encourage and promote domestic reconciliation and stabilize society through cooperation and communication, the president noted that "the Solomon Islands did it, and Taiwan can do it too."

"A divided nation can not stand," Chen said. "Only when reaching out the hands of reconciliation can a country and its people benefit."

The Solomon Islands, one of Taiwan's allies in the South Pacific region, was rent by severe ethnic unrest and government malfeasance from 1999 to 2003. In June 2003, its prime minister, Sir Allen Kemakeza, sought the assistance of Australia in reestablishing law and order. Peace was restored and ethnic militias were disarmed in that following month after an Australian-led multinational force arrived.

"The Solomon Islands' social and political fracturing led its people to pay a historic price," Chen said.

"Yet ... together, its leaders and people decided to push for consultations, cooperation and dialogue for the common good and interest of the country and people's longing for stability," Chen said.

"Dialogue is the most effective way to resolve differences and seek consensus, and reconciliation is the cornerstone in constructing a nation's unity and substantial development," Chen said.

He added after what they went through in years of violent division, the people of the Solomon Islands know this lesson well.

Referring to the Solomon Islands' national flag, which is green and blue with a diagonal yellow line, Chen said the design of the national flag was a source of inspiration to him and the Taiwanese people.

"For other foreigners, they might not know the significance of [the Solomon Islands'] national flag," Chen said. "Yet to the people in Taiwan, it is rather inspirational."

Chen told his audience that in Taiwan, the colors green and blue represent the ruling and the opposition parties.

"Although on the national flag there is a yellow gap in the middle, to us, we believe that the yellow represent not a gap but a bridge that lies between the political parties and is the important bridge in unifying the nation," Chen said.

The challenge that faces Taiwan now is how to further consolidate its democracy, he said.

According to the Solomon Islands' parliament speaker Sir Peter Kenilorea, Chen is the first foreign leader to address their parliament.

Noting the high attendance of parliament members across party lines at the special meeting, Chen said he was very touched and that the turnout showed the Solomon Islands' firm support and friendship toward Taiwan and its people.

Kemakeza asserted his country's recognition of Taiwan as a sovereign nation and pledged firm commitment in supporting Taiwan's bid to join world bodies such as the UN and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Following Chen's speech, a joint communique was signed between Chen and Kemakeza, pledging to strengthen bilateral ties and cooperative projects.

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