Minister of State Katja Keul prior to her trip to Samoa, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea

08.07.2024 - Press release

The Indo-Pacific is where many of the big global issues of the 21st century will be decided. And we share concerns about many of these issues with the Pacific Island States. First and foremost, working to protect the climate and livelihoods, but also strengthening the rules-based international order, preserving cultural assets and coming to terms with Germany’s colonial past in parts of a number of island states. The opening of a German Embassy in Suva and the high-ranking trips made by representatives of the German Government over the past two years underscore our commitment.

I am delighted, as the first representative of the German Government to visit Samoa for over 30 years, to be able to discuss regional and multilateral issues with the Samoan Government. The ceremony to return a historic prow of a boat from the collection of the Übersee-Museum in Bremen to Samoa will be a special moment. This artefact is finally going home. At the same time, we are facing up to our colonial past in the region. The prow will be on display at the National University of Samoa from September 2024 in an exhibition developed in collaboration with the Übersee-Museum in Bremen.

The fact that my visit to the Solomon Islands is the first ever by a representative of the German Government shows just how much we have to catch up on. This makes the dialogue with the members of the newly elected Government and the visits to the projects in the region all the more important.

In Papua New Guinea, the largest Pacific Island State, I will discuss bilateral and regional issues as well as the colonial past with members of the Government, church representatives and experts from the world of science and academia and museums. Our aim is to further deepen our cooperation in international forums, and also in fighting the impacts of climate change.“

Background information:

Katja Keul, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, will travel to Samoa, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea from 7 to 17 July 2024. With her visit, she intends to underline the German Government’s ongoing commitment to the entire region of the Pacific Island States, particularly in the area of climate change. Germany’s colonial past will also be high up on the agenda during the trip.

With its progress report on the Policy guidelines for the Indo-Pacific of 2022, the German Government took an even closer look at the ”blue continent“ and committed itself to long-term engagement in the region. The opening of the German Embassy in Suva in Fiji in August 2023 and the appointment of a Special Envoy for the Pacific Island States were milestones for increased cooperation in the region.

Parts of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands (up until 1899) were German colonial territories until 1914. The western part of the Samoan Islands was part of the former German colonial territory from 1900-1914 as ”German Samoa“. Coming to terms with Germany’s colonial past offers points of departure for forward-looking cooperation, particularly in the area of cultural and societal diplomacy.

Samoa is currently the Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). The return of this prow is the result of a number of years of scientific and academic cooperation between the Übersee-Museum of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen and the National University of Samoa. In the Solomon Islands, Germany is heavily involved in climate and nature conservation via the International Climate Initiative (ICI). It is also lending its support to ordnance clearance, healthcare and the exchange of cultural experts. In Papua New Guinea, Germany is working on numerous, also multilateral, projects.


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