Prime Minister Mark Brown of Cook Islands, welcoming Pacific Media to the 52nd Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting in Cook Islands.

(Cook Islands) Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown urged the Pacific media to report on the voices of the Pacific people and the choices they make during the welcoming reception on Saturday, November 4, 2023.

This is the concept behind this 52nd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting theme: Our Voices, Our Choices, Our Pacific Way.

Prime Minister Brown, current chair of the 52nd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting, expressed that the media is too focused on the geopolitical competition between the United States and China and that this is obscuring the real priorities and concerns of Pacific people. He wants the media to report on the choices that Pacific countries are making for themselves and to amplify the voices of Pacific people.

“The development program priorities, the agendas, the narrative that we want to set, is the narrative that is heard by the rest of the world, and not by celebrity politicians that come to our country, and … take the oxygen out of what we are talking about,” said Prime Minister Brown.

Brown criticized the reporting attributing decisions made by Pacific leaders to the growing geopolitical interest in the region. He said that this is an insult to Pacific island countries, implying they are incapable of making their own decisions.

“The assumption that Pacific island countries may not know what they are doing is starting to sound insulting and getting to the state of being offensive in some cases,” added Brown.

“They are not hearing what Pacific voices are saying. We are here trying to look at opportunities to lift the prosperity levels of our people, to address serious concerns around financing to improve infrastructure, and around investment to provide opportunities for our people to participate in the growing economy. So when we go to development partners who will provide us with this support, what we see reported in the media has nothing to do with the choices that we have made,” said Brown.

“I’ve said over and over again that we are not a region of competition. We are a region of collaboration. We will work with whoever development partner that is willing to work to our terms,” said the Cook Islands Prime Minister.

Brown called on the Pacific media to report on the voices of the Pacific people and the choices they make. This will help to ensure that the Pacific perspective is heard and understood by the rest of the world.

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