The Autonomous Region of Bougainville today (Tuesday 14 February 2017) plays host to New Zealand Minister for Foreign Affairs Murray McCully as he embarks on his tour of the region.
Pictured above arriving at Buka Airport
The objective of the visit is for the Minister to engage in high level discussions with members of the ABG regarding continued bilateral cooperation, impact of existing development projects, capacity for future development projects and cooperation; and possible support for the upcoming referendum.
The visit will also provide an opportunity to explore broader political, diplomatic and government to government areas of cooperation.
Bougainville and New Zealand have a long history of shared cooperation and support as New Zealand was instrumental in the development of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and since that time has maintained active support through a range of diplomatic and development initiatives.
Chief Secretary to the ABG Joseph Nobetau said the symbolic importance of this visit cannot be understated because New Zealand is a friend of Bougainville and has demonstrated a long term willingness to support the ABG as it continues on a path to autonomy, peace and reconciliation.
“Through ongoing policing support and other initiatives New Zealand is contributing to the peace and stability of Bougainville,” Nobetau said.
“The Minister’s visit is therefore a recognition, at the highest levels of Government, of New Zealand’s commitment to our long term success and growth,” Nobetau said.
Nobetau further said that the Foreign Minister’s visit provides a good opportunity to engage on a range of issues of mutual interest.
He said this opportunity will also allow the Acting ABG President Raymond Masono to formally convey to the New Zealand Government the appreciation of the people of Bougainville and the ABG for their continued support.
Since the signing of Cease Fire in 1997 the New Zealand Government has been providing development support to Bougainville which primarily aims to increase the capacity of the ABG to operate autonomously and in an open, efficient and transparent manner.
Specific development assistance projects to date include, Bougainville Community Policing Programme (BCPP), the Governance and Implementation Facility (GIF), Support to the Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner (OBEC)
They have also provided technical support to ABG departments as well as funding important infrastructural developments in health, education and agriculture through their various aid and development programs on Bougainville.