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New Caledonia: constitutional future

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PA47 22 April 1998


I am delighted at the announcement last night (21 April) in Noumea by the three Matignon Accords partners - the French Government, the RPCR and the FLNKS - that they have reached a consensus solution on the constitutional future for New Caledonia.

I congratulate them on this significant achievement.

The Australian Government has consistently signalled at the highest levels our strong support for the Matignon Accords peace process in New Caledonia and for the efforts of all involved over the ten year period of the Accords to arrive at a broadly-acceptable settlement on the future of New Caledonia through peaceful negotiation.

The new statute, to be ratified by popular referendum later this year, provides a framework within which New Caledonia will gradually assume greater political and social powers over the next 15 to 20 years. At the end of that time, New Caledonians will decide whether to move to full independence. France’s continuing support, particularly in the economic field,

during this transition period will ensure that all New Caledonia’s communities will have the opportunity to realise their individual and collective aspirations.

As a friendly neighbour, Australia is fully committed to cooperative and constructive relations with New Caledonia. We look forward to continuing an active partnership with New Caledonia under its new statute as an important part of the fabric of our positive relations with "W France in the Pacific region.

Media Contacts: Minister's Office: Innes Willox 02 62777500 or 0411 414 695 Departmental: Tony Melville 02 62611555 or 017 846683