The Office of Prime Minister Charlot Salwai, has made it known that a letter was sent to French President, Emmanuel Macron, to express Vanuatu’s disappointment and protest against the France for sending its warship to Matthew and Hunter.
In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office stated that the action by the French navy in January disrespected Vanuatu’s sovereignty and culture as the two islands were part of Tafea Province.
PM Salwai has said that such action will not lead to an amicable solution, especially at a time when Vanuatu and France agreed to dialogue on sorting their maritime boundary.
“Vanuatu wants a friendly solution that is done according to cultural heritage that is linked with Matthew and Hunter and follows the declaration by the Customary Senate of New Caledonia,” Mr Salwai stated.
The Prime Minister said Vanuatu’s independence is not complete as there are boundary issues that are yet to be resolved with Fiji and France.
The Government is appealing to the governments of France, Fiji and United Kingdom to assist in resolving the boundary issues but not to take actions that do not help to promote peace.
This was said in reference to an agreement between Fiji and France in 1983 and another between United Kingdom and France.
Mr Salwai says a priority of the government he leads is to resolve this outstanding issue relating to the maritime boundary to the east and west of Vanuatu as well as deal with Vanuatu’s airspace and see the return of Matthew and Hunter.