RAMSI Special Coordinator, Tim George said it was an honour to be co-host with Solomon Islands first Prime Minister and current Parliamentary Speaker, Sir Peter Kenilorea, at an event to mark five years of Regional Assistance Mission's partnership with Solomon Islands.

Mr George said Sir Peter's personal stature as well as his role as Speaker of the National Parliament gave the event particular significance and underlined very effectively the National Parliament's key role in the RAMSI-Solomon Islands partnership.

Mr George said it was very pleasing to see such a good participation by Members of Parliament, including the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and representatives of all political parties.

"We also welcome the participation of a number of Premiers, who have an important part to play in the partnership between RAMSI and Solomon Islands, as do the representatives of the churches and other civil society groups," Mr George said.

The anniversary function, held jointly by the National Parliament and RAMSI on the grounds of Solomon Islands National Parliament on Saturday night, recognised the central role Parliament and elected members have played in the partnership from the initial invitation to RAMSI in 2003.

Sir Peter said that RAMSI had succeeded in bringing peace and stability to Solomon Islands.

"In RAMSI, our regional partners have stood with us when things were tough, have offered us their hearts and their hands, and had lifted us up when we needed it most."

Mr George said that as a five year old mission, RAMSI understands the need to remain a dynamic and evolving partner that is sensitive to the needs and concerns of Solomon Islanders.

"Let me pay tribute to the people of Solomon Islands. None of what has been achieved over the past five years would have been possible without their trust and support, and we convey our deep appreciation to them, one and all," Mr George said.

Mr George said he was honored by the presence of Solomon Islands Prime Minister Derek Sikua which underlined the strong and healthy relationship between RAMSI and the government.

"The clearest sign of this close relationship is the Partnership Framework document, currently being developed by the Solomon Islands Government and RAMSI. This will guide RAMSI's work for the future, on the basis of mutual commitment and respect, and a joint vision," Mr George said.

Prime Minister Sikua told the audience that since RAMSI's arrival in Solomon Islands five years ago, it has been re-building and re-strengthening Solomon Islands' sovereignty.

"RAMSI has been engaged in capacity building in the areas of human resources development and the transfer of skills and expertise," Dr Sikua said.

He said RAMSI's success depends to a large extent on the close cooperation and support the Government and Solomon Islanders render it, adding the support rendered will be reciprocated.

Mr George also acknowledged RAMSI's deep appreciation to the Pacific Islands Forum and to its 16 members, and gave tribute to the great efforts of Forum representative, Dr Lesi Korovavala.

"The Forum has played a pivotal role since the inception of RAMSI, and now plays an even more important role in overseeing and lending weight to the mission."

Mr George said that while RAMSI had come a long way, much remains to be done.

"RAMSI remains committed to the task, and undertakes to work hand in hand with the Government and people of Solomon Islands, to ensure the brightest possible future for this wonderful country."

Mr. Tim George also paid tribute to the work of the former Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum, the late Mr Greg Urwin, who firmly believed the Pacific's future lay in its members working closely together.

Press Release (RAMSI Media)