It’s about ‘our security’: Sogavare

Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare
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PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare has defended the ‘leaked’ Security Cooperation draft agreement with Peoples Republic of China that the two countries are expected to sign soon.

This came after overseas media assumed the leaked document indicates the potential of China establishing a military base in Solomon Islands.

Delivering his statement in the 5th meeting of the 11th Parliament yesterday, Sogavare described people leaking the documents as some ‘lunatics’ and agents of foreign regimes in the government system that have no regards for secrecy.

He also described as ‘nonsense’ Australia media’s depiction that Solomon Islands is being pressured by China to build a military base in Solomon Islands, which is only 2,000km away from the northern shores of Australia.

Further to that, Sogavare has challenged the ‘liberal hegemony’ where if they convert all countries to become liberal democracies, they will guarantee you world peace and stability.

He referred to the Monroe Doctrine (1823) and various geopolitical ideologies that are creating all these hatreds of countries that do not share their political ideologies

The Monroe Doctrine was articulated in President James Monroe’s seventh annual message to the US Congress on December 2, 1823.

The European powers, according to Monroe, were obligated to respect the Western Hemisphere as the United States’ sphere of interest.

Furthermore, Sogavare dismissed the claims by Opposition Group that his government is leading an autocratic government with the security arrangement.

Instead, Sogavare said the security treaty was pursued at the request of Solomon Islands government.

He said the treaty is part of the diversifying approach by the government to protect the national security and interests of the country.

He said this is not a “secret issue” but a sovereign one.

“It is the intention and hope that all these partners will work with the government in speaking to our needs whether it be in cyber security, illegal fishing, border security, international trade and non-traditional security issues like NCDs and environmental threats like climate change.

“These are all security issues that need partnerships with all our bilateral partners,” he said.

Therefore, Sogavare said it is very important to ensure they have a framework to guide their partnership to delivering their security engagements.

The unsigned document leaked on social media last Thursday states that Solomon Islands may, according to its own needs, request China to send police, armed police, military personnel, and other law enforcement and armed forces to Solomon Islands.

This is to assist in maintaining social order, protecting people’s lives and property, providing humanitarian assistance, carrying out disaster response, or providing assistance on other tasks agreed upon by the Parties.

The document also states China may according to its own needs with the consent of Solomon Islands, make ship visits to, carry out logistical replenishment in, and have stopover and transition in Solomon Islands.

It also states the relevant forces of China can be used to protect the safety of Chinese personnel and major projects in Solomon Islands.

But Sogavare said:

“This treaty as you all understand is not an open invitation to come as when they please.

“It is a treaty that can only be activated by their request based on our needs.”

Sogavare praised Australia and New Zealand, who have expressed their concerns about the security arrangement with China, for their assistances to Solomon Islands in the past until today.

“They will also remain close to our hearts as partners of choice when it comes to the need to call for assistance in critical times,” he said.

Parliament has adjourned to Thursday 29th March.