The Foreign Minister of Solomon Islands, the Hon William Ni'i Haomae, and Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum, the Hon Tuiloma Neroni Slade, and RAMSI Special Coordinator, Mr Timothy George, today welcomed the appointment of Mr Graeme Wilson as the next Special Coordinator of RAMSI.

Nominated by the Australian Government, Mr Wilson's appointment was confirmed following consultation with the Solomon Islands Government (SIG) and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). Mr Wilson is expected to take up his position in January 2009, when he will replace Tim George.

Mr Haomae said SIG looked forward to working with Mr Wilson, who will have a key role in further developing the close partnership between RAMSI and the Government and people of SI.

"Much had already been achieved in the partnership, but there are still significant challenges for the nation to address with the assistance of the Regional Mission," Mr Haomae said. He said it was pleasing to note that Mr Wilson already had strong experience in the Pacific region, particularly in his most recent role of Head of the Pacific Islands Branch in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Australia.

Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Hon Slade, noting the PIF's strengthened oversight role over RAMSI over the past year, said Mr Wilson would play an important leadership role in coordinating the work of the mission, in which all members of the PIF played an active part. Secretary-General Slade welcomed the close and collaborative relationship between the PIF, the SIG and RAMSI, and noted the strong on-going support of all PIF members for the mission.

Special Coordinator Tim George said in his final months he was looking forward to continuing to work with the government in developing the Partnership Framework.
"This document will guide RAMSI's work for the future, on the basis of mutual commitment and respect, and a joint vision," Mr George said. Mr George said Mr Wilson's Pacific experience and diverse skills would suit the leadership role of a unique mission like RAMSI.

"Working with Solomon Islanders and leading a group of dedicated men and women from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific is both challenging and an absolute privilege," Mr George said.

Prior to Mr Wilson holding the position of Assistant Secretary, Pacific Islands Branch, DFAT, he has held a number of positions in Canberra and overseas including Port Vila, Paris, Consul-General in Noumea and Ambassador of Australia to Mexico. Mr Wilson joined DFAT in 1983.

Mr Wilson said he was looking forward to working with Solomon Islanders and the region to build on the progress made through the RAMSI-Solomon Islands partnership over the last five years.

"I particularly look forward to continuing the close working relationship that has been established between RAMSI, the Solomon Islands Government and the Pacific Islands Forum with the aim of helping to build a peaceful, well governed and more prosperous Solomon Islands."

Press Release (RAMSI Media)