Credentials speech of British Ambassador to Palau

Speech given by Ambassador Asif Ahmad during his presentation of credentials to H.E. President Tommy Remengesau Jr of the Republic of Palau.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Asif Ahmad CMG

Your Excellency, members of the Government of the Republic of Palau

Ungil Tutau

It is with great pleasure that I have the honour of presenting my credentials as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second’s Ambassador to Palau.

May I take this opportunity to congratulate you and the people of Palau as you mark the 20th year of independence.

Your country is no longer a teenager but an established and prospering nation.

The distance between the UK and Palau is 7,570 miles. But that distance has not made us distant friends.

We have a great deal in common.

We are both island nations.

We have a common language, English.

In the United States, we have a shared ally.

Palau and Britain are both multi-ethnic countries.

You have over 300 Bengalis living in Palau.

We have more than half a million Britons of Bengali heritage in the UK today.

I serve here as the representative of Queen Elizabeth the Second.

And I recall that it was in the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First that Sir Francis Drake first saw the islands of Palau. That was in 1579.

It is commonly agreed that our diplomatic exchanges go back to the visit by Prince Leeboo to Britain with Captain Henry Wilson in 1783.

Our commercial links go back a long way too with a Treaty that enabled Britain to support agriculture and trade with Palau.

I suppose I am now continuing that history by engaging with the business community here.

Mr President, from my discussions with the Palau Chamber of Commerce yesterday, I am sure that there are private and public sector business opportunities for British companies to pursue.

On the international scene, we have many common values and interests.

Palau has now been a member of the United Nations for 20 years.

Your voting record shows that you have principles that we share.

It is important that you have your say on issues that are not just related to local interests.

In Ukraine, Syria and issues such as terrorism and nuclear proliferation, we value the position Palau takes.

Your own history tells you that conflicts in far off places can find their way to harm your 200 islands.

British experts and charity organisations have been working with Palau to this day to find and destroy mines that were left during World War Two.

Your voice on climate change is essential.

As an island nation you are already facing the challenges of changing weather patterns.

The intensity and frequency of typhoons is evidence of the impact of global warming.

We hope that Palau will continue to be a progressive voice as the UNFCCC meets in Lima and then in Paris.

Our survival depends on the outcome of these climate negotiations.

You have set a bold and inspiring example here in the way you have embraced environmentally friendly tourism.

Your approach to marine protection is commendable.

This is particularly challenging in the Pacific Islands where commercial pressures from large scale fishing operations can overwhelm governments.

Palau is now the centre of attraction in international diplomacy as you host the next Pacific Islands Forum.

I am confident that through good preparation and effective chairmanship, the PIF will be a great success.

The Forum has a tradition of upholding democratic values and Palau is a good role model.

It is a place where larger nations and small island states meet as partners.

Mr President, may I end by saying how grateful I am for your personal warm welcome to Palau.

I also appreciate the time your cabinet members have given to me.

I hope that during my term as Ambassador, we will see more evidence of the growing links between our two countries.

From the people of the United Kingdom I extend my warm greetings to the citizens of Palau.

Ke kmal mesaul

Published 11 June 2014