By Sanjeshni Kumar in Port Moresby
Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the Pacific Islands nations consider the Indian premier as the leader of the Global South and will rally behind India’s leadership at international forums.
Highlighting the problems faced by Pacific Islands nations due to the Russia-Ukraine war, Marape pledged the support while addressing the third India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) Summit which was co-chaired by Prime Minister Modi.
“We are victims of global powerplay . . . You [PM Modi] are the leader of Global South. We will rally behind your [India] leadership at global forums,” said Marape.
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He pointed to the inflationary pressure on his country due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Marape said that Pacific Islands nations had to face the brunt of the war as they had high costs of fuel and power tariffs and suffered as a result of big nations at play in terms of geopolitics and power struggles.
“The issue of Ukraine war with Russia, or Russia’s war with Ukraine rather, we import the inflation to our own small economies,” said Marape.
“These nations sitting before you, Prime Minister [PM Modi], have high costs of fuel and power tariffs in their own countries and we suffer as a result of big nations at play in terms of geopolitics and the power struggles out there,” said Marape.
‘You are the voice’
He urged Modi to be an active voice for the small island nations at global forums such as G20 and G7, adding, “You are the voice that can offer our issues at the highest [level] as advanced economies discuss matters relating to economy, commerce, trade and geopolitics.”
Marape prompted India to use the FIPIC summit to be the strong voice and advocate the challenges of the region.
“We ask you, using this moment where I am co-chairing and I speak for my small brother and sister nations of the Pacific. While our land may be small and the number may be small, our area and space in the Pacific are big.
“The world uses [us] for trade, commerce and movement.”
Marape urged Modi to be an advocate for Pacific Island nations, adding, “We want you to be an advocate for us. As you sit in those meetings and continue to fight for the rights of small emerging nations and emerging economies.
“Our leaders will have a moment to speak to you. I want you, Prime Minister, for you to spend time hearing them.
“And hopefully, at the end of these dialogues, may India and the Pacific’s relationship is entrenched and strengthened,” said Marape.
“But more importantly, the issues that are facing the Pacific island nations, especially the smaller ones among us ahead in its right context and given support by you, the leader of the Global South,” the Papua New Guinea leader said.
Marape also highlighted the shared history of India and Papua New Guinea.
He said: “People have been travelling for thousands of years. Just like your people have lived in India for thousands of years. We all come from a shared history.
“A history of being colonised. History that holds the nations of Global South together. I thank you (PM Modi) for assuring me in the bilateral meeting that as you host G20 this year you will advocate on issues that relate to the Global South.”
He said that Global South had development challenges and raised concern over the use of its resources while its people are kept aloof from sharing its fruits.
“In the Global South, we have development challenges. Our resources are harvested by tones and volumes. And our people have been left behind,” said Marape.
Prime Minister Modi highlighted India’s assistance to Pacific Island nations during the covid-19 pandemic.
“The impact of the covid pandemic [impacted] most on the countries of the Global South. Challenges related to climate change, natural disasters, hunger, poverty and health were already there, now new problems are arising . . . I am happy that India stood by its friendly Pacific Island countries in times of difficulty,” said Modi.
Supply chain disruption
He also talked about disruption in the supply chain, saying that countries of the Global South had been impacted by the global crisis and also called for UN reforms at the Pacific meet.
“Today we are seeing disruption in the supply chain of fuel, food, fertiliser and pharma. Those whom we trusted, didn’t stand with us when needed,” said Modi.
Modi added that India would put aspirations of the Global South to the world via its G20 presidency, adding, “This was my focus at the G7 Outreach summit.”
This article was first published by Asian News International/Pacnews. Republished with permission.