Foreign Minister Murray McCully will travel to the Cook Islands this week to undertake a range of meetings, including with Prime Minister Henry Puna and his Cabinet.
“My discussions with Prime Minister Puna and his Cabinet will cover a range of matters including New Zealand’s support to the Cook Island’s tourism sector, which accounts for over 60% of national GDP,” Mr McCully says.
“Ensuring the ongoing health of the tourism sector is a top priority in our partnership. For this reason, New Zealand has committed to projects designed to improve sanitation and water quality infrastructure, specifically in Rarotonga and Aitutaki.”
This visit will also provide an opportunity to hear from Cook Island representatives about economic development opportunities in the outer islands.
While in the Cook Islands, Minister McCully will also meet with members of the Opposition and attend engagements with the Cook Islands Tourism Board and key business leaders.
Foreign Minister Murray McCully will travel to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands next week for meetings with their political leaders about partnerships, economic development and maintaining political stability.
“Papua New Guinea is the largest Pacific Islands country, a leader in the region, and an important partner for New Zealand,” Mr McCully says.
“I will be discussing New Zealand’s support for PNG’s hosting of APEC, its broader leadership role in the region, and our partnership to expand public access to energy.
“I will also visit the Autonomous Region of Bougainville to see New Zealand’s development assistance, including meeting New Zealand Police and Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) volunteers stationed there.
“It will also be an opportunity to discuss PNG’s upcoming national elections.”
In the Solomon Islands, Mr McCully will discuss New Zealand’s ongoing partnership with the country, particularly how to move it forward once the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) ends in June 2017.
“New Zealand has been a strong supporter of stability in the Solomon Islands through our contribution to RAMSI,” Mr McCully says. “New Zealand will continue to support its stability and economic development after RAMSI departs. Tourism is an important economic opportunity for the Solomon Islands, and my trip will include a visit the Western Province to discuss New Zealand’s support in this area.”
Foreign Minister Murray McCully welcomes the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó to New Zealand, who he will meet in Auckland on Friday this week.
“This visit presents an opportunity to deepen this relationship, including through discussing trade opportunities and New Zealand’s ambitions for a Free Trade Agreement with the EU,” Mr McCully says.
“Foreign Minister Szijjártó’s visit marks the growing links between our two countries. In recent years, New Zealand’s relationship with Hungary has benefited from the annual Working Holiday Scheme, where up to 100 young New Zealanders and Hungarians can live and work in the other’s country each year.”
While in New Zealand, Mr Szijjártó will officially open the Hungarian Embassy in Wellington, deliver a public speech at Parliament on the future of the EU post-Brexit, and speak at a trade forum.
Foreign Minister Murray McCully has welcomed to New Zealand the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi, who he will meet in Auckland tomorrow.
“This year, New Zealand celebrates 45 years of bilateral relations with China, and our important partnership continues to be forward-looking,” says Mr McCully.
“Our two-way trade stands at over $23 billion and our aim is for this to reach $30 billion by 2020. We’ve grown in education connections and tourism, with 70 direct flights a week between our countries.”
“My meeting with Minister Wang Yi will also provide an opportunity to discuss a range of issues, including our international cooperation following our term on the United Nations Security Council, and exploring future cooperation opportunities.”
Minister Wang Yi arrives in New Zealand for the two-day visit today.
Foreign Minister Murray McCully will travel to Australia this week to meet his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop for formal six monthly foreign policy consultations. He will also meet a range of other senior ministers and the opposition Foreign Affairs spokesperson.
“These twice yearly consultations are an opportunity for us to exchange views across a range of foreign policy issues,” Mr McCully says.
“Of particular importance will be discussions on our two countries’ strategic engagement in our Pacific neighbourhood, including as Australia develops its new Foreign Policy White Paper. We will take stock of the Trans-Tasman partnership and discuss other aspects of foreign policy cooperation prior to the annual meeting of New Zealand and Australian Prime Ministers.”
The spirit of unanimity in which the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 2334 on December 23 stands in sharp contrast to the condemnation and accusations that have dominated subsequent commentary from Israel and that country's supporters.
New Zealanders deserve to know why the issue of settlements has become so challenging, and why it came before the council in December 2016.
At the heart of this whole debate is whether we will see a future in which two states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace and security. This two state solution has been the accepted basis for resolving the Palestinian question for many decades now, enshrined in various negotiated accords and UN Security Council resolutions, and the focus for several unsuccessful attempts to broker final agreement between the parties,
The most recent attempt was led by US Secretary of State John Kerry. After showing great promise those talks broke down in 2014.
No one should underestimate the challenges associated with negotiating the terms for a two state solution. Significant compromises are required of both sides, and the domestic political challenges for both are formidable.
But there has been agreement in principle on the key components, security guarantees for Israel and a state for Palestinians based on the 1967 borders but with negotiated land swaps, including a negotiated approach to managing Jerusalem's holy sites. Resolution 2334 reinforces the international community's commitment to this negotiated outcome.
Resolution 2334 condemns the obstacles to a negotiated two state solution: incitement and acts of violence and terror against civilians of all sides, and the ongoing settlements programme which carves ever more deeply into the land available for a Palestinian state on the West Bank.
There have been some misleading and irresponsible claims made by critics of the resolution: that it somehow predetermines negotiations between the parties, affects the rights of Israelis to access certain religious sites, or changes the legal status of the West Bank. None of those claims is correct. New Zealand would not have supported it if those assertions were correct, and the US would most certainly not have allowed the resolution to pass.
The focal point for much of the critics' anger is the direct call for a halt to the settlements. But that call by the council was clear and deliberate because continuing settlement growth at anything like the current rate will render the two state solution a purely academic concept. There will be nothing left to negotiate.
The other reality is that without a two state solution, demographic and security considerations will pose a serious challenge to the future character of Israel. Kerry put it starkly in his statement the week after the adoption of Resolution 2334, "If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic - it cannot be both - and it won't ever really be at peace."
Those who doubt the seriousness of the settlements issue should read the report of the Middle East Quartet of July 1, 2016. The Quartet comprises the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States. Its report outlines in a careful and factual way the impact of ongoing settlement activity, and more recent moves by the Israeli Parliament to retrospectively legalise settlements developed in contravention of Israeli law.
In Israel this is a politically difficult topic. The settler movement is very influential in the current government, and its leaders occupy a number of key Cabinet posts.
For the whole of New Zealand's two year term on the Security Council, the Secretary-General and his Special Co-ordinator have expressed alarm that the forces of incitement and violence and the relentless progress of the settlement programme were undermining the two state solution.
Some quite exotic theories have been advanced as to why this resolution was dealt with in the final month of New Zealand's council membership. The truth is: the United States would not accept any resolution on this topic until after US presidential elections in November. The domestic politics would have been too difficult.
In late 2014 three quarters of the countries in the United Nations voted for New Zealand's election to the Security Council. They did so because New Zealand has a long standing and respected record for fairness. They also knew of New Zealand's long standing bi-partisan support for the two state solution as a basis for resolving the Palestinian question.
Against that background it would be very difficult to explain why we would not support a resolution seeking to reinforce the notion of two states living peacefully, side by side, and which called for an end to the incitement, violence and the settlements that pose such a serious threat to it.
Foreign Minister Murray McCully today welcomed the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 regarding the Middle East Peace Process. The resolution passed with 14 votes in favour and an abstention from the US.Read more
Foreign Minister Murray McCully today announced that New Zealand will provide an additional $1 million to help Syrian people affected by the civil war, including those in Aleppo.Read more