July 18, 2012
Samoa hosts Pacific-EU talks
Posted July 18, 2012 06:48:18
Pacific and European officials meeting in Samoa are expected to discuss climate change, democracy in Fiji and a ban on kava.
Samoa is hosting an African-Caribbean-Pacific and European Union joint assembly.
Samoan MP Lenata'i Victor Faafoi Tamapua, the chair of the African-Caribbean-Pacific parliamentary committee on political affairs, says the Pacific has a lot to gain from the talks.
"I think this is a great opportunity for us to look at issues pertaining in the Pacific, such as climate change, access to health and education...and also further discussions on human rights," he said.
Following the summit, six representatives of the ACP and the EU will visit Fiji, in response to a proposal put forward by Suva at a Pacific-European leaders' meeting in Hungary last year.
Mr Tamapua has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program he's optimistic about the visit.
"The mission that'll go ahead - it was finally decided back in May that they'll put a fact finding mission together - and hopefully this mission will some way have an impact and hopefully Fiji elections will eventuate in 2014," he said.
Europe's ban on kava importation is also expected to feature in the talks.
Kava is a non-alcoholic drink made from the crushed roots of a pepper plant, which has narcotic sedative properties.
Mr Tamapua says the Pacific would be keen to see that ban overturned.
"Last year in November the Pacific Islands put together a submission to the European Union, asking that they overturn the ban on kava," he said.
"As you know, all Pacific Islands, more or less, they produce kava, and they have...been exporting it to Europe.
"[It is] very useful medically...but the ban has put on some implications that it's not healthy and it's not good - but it's something that's taken by the Pacific Islands for many years."