Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

Address by

H.E. Mr. Joseph J. Urusemal
Federated States of Micronesia

On the Occasion
of the
20th Anniversary of Independence

Palikir, November 3, 2006

My fellow citizens and friends of the Federated States of Micronesia,

It gives me great pleasure to extend warm greetings and Kaselehlia from Palikir, Pohnpei to you - on this historic occasion of the 20th Anniversary of our National Day.

In doing so, please allow me to first pay my utmost respect to our traditional leaders, and all those in leadership positions in our communities, in our churches, in all levels of government throughout the FSM. I also wish to extend my special greetings and best wishes to our citizens living abroad, and of course, to our young men and women in the US Armed Forces serving in troubled spots around the world.

As a special feature of today's importance, the Office of the President is blessed with the presence of a group of 8th graders from Sekere Elementary School, accompanied by their teacher Mr. Remenster Jonah. They are here as special guests of the Office, and I extend a warm welcome to all of you.

The 20th Anniversary of our National Day is a day of celebration, and I do hope that you make some time to celebrate and commemorate this historic day in your own ways. While commemorating this day, it is also fitting and appropriate that we take some time to reflect on what this means to us.

Looking back over these past twenty years, in many ways, we, as a nation, have made many accomplishments since the termination of the trusteeship which ushered in the new status of the FSM as an independent small island nation. Many aspects of our cultural heritage still remain today. Our political institutions are functioning, and we acknowledge our on-going efforts in the protection and management of our fragile ecosystem. While our economic performance leaves much to be desired, we are in general content with our quality of life.

Indeed, having reached the twentieth birthday of our nation is an accomplishment in itself of which we can all be proud. It signifies reaching a degree of maturity as a government and as a people. As one nation, we have come a long way in a short span of time to be what we are today, and we have done this together despite the formidable challenges and issues inherent to small island nations.

Central to the accomplishments we have achieved as a people is the fact that we remain a nation of four distinct and proud states. This is a tribute to the abiding faith of our people in the strength of our unity. In my humble opinion, this is a trademark strength rooted in our tradition or way of life as a people, a way of life embodied and so eloquently captured in the lofty words of our constitution which affirms our common wish to live together in peace and harmony as a people.

My fellow citizens and friends,

It has been a little over three years since I assumed the presidency of our nation. It has been a challenging experience for me, Vice President Killion and members of my Administration. But, it has also been a very rewarding and honorable experience, and please allow me to take this opportunity to thank you - the people and leadership of our nation - for your support and cooperation for the three past years and I can only ask for the same for the remaining term of my administration.

The beginning of my administration was a critical juncture in our nation's history, at a crossroad, having just completed the first compact relationship with the United States and starting the second. We knew and anticipated many challenges lie ahead, given what has been said under the First Compact and the long road ahead with a new ballgame for Second Compact. But the resolve remains the same - to assure some economic stability and security for our people.

In looking back, I must say I have no regrets in making the historic decision to authorize signing of the amended compact which has been one of my principal preoccupations since I took office. The tasks are awesome, and I am thankful to Speaker Christian and members of Congress, all Governors, Speakers and the States Leadership for the support and cooperation in undertaking these difficult tasks.

Together, we made the right decision to accept it, not only for the sole purpose of accessing the streams of economic benefits to secure our future but for strengthening the good relations with the United States. The amended compact is not the ideal perfect document, but I know that the compact itself provides for opportunities to exchange views with the us on such key issues as compact funds management, compact project implementation, trust fund issues, capacity building and so forth.

My fellow citizens and friends,

I will be remiss not to take this opportunity to express also our deep gratitude and appreciation to our other development partners for their friendship and cooperation. Their support and assistance have not only contributed to the economic and social development of our nation, but have also cemented the friendship and cooperation between our countries.

My fellow citizens,

Our works have just begun. We cannot rest as we have much more to do in moving our islands forward. Just as I called on our resolve and determination in my inaugural address, I do so again today having reached this important milestone in our nation's history. We have achieved some progress against all odds. We have also confronted challenges and impediments in the awesome task of nation-building. Yet, while these can take us one step back, we must make up by taking two steps forward. We must build on the gains achieved thus far and move onward with the same courage and resilience that have been part of our Micronesian heritage.

A few days ago, I attended the Micronesian cultural exchange festival in Honolulu, and I must say it was an uplifting experience not only to meet many of our citizens, such as Mr. Tim Edmund and Ms. Lillian Segal of Kosrae, Mr. Xavior Fathal and Mr. Lubuw Falanruw of Yap, Mr. Rodrico Mauricio and Mr. Venansio Alfonse of Pohnpei and Ms. Jocelyn Howard and Mr. Patrick Martinez of Chuuk, but to see for myself what they can do to help one another and to contribute to the State of Hawaii. I commend and congratulate them for their hard work and their personal efforts in seeking better opportunities for themselves and their families.

I am humbly honored to follow the foot steps of my predecessors to serve as your President. For these past three years, if there is one thing that I will always remember the most, it would have to be the overwhelming kindness and the sincerity of the people that I have met during my state visits through out the nation.

I am very grateful indeed to have been able to visit many of our islands in our federation as it gives me an appreciation of who we are, how we are living and what we are thinking. One thing, though, that always stand out most about our people is their resilience and determination to succeed. This is no doubt an invaluable asset we have as a people, being shaped by our circumstances, an asset that will prove useful in our quest to live up to the ideals and principles enshrined in our constitution.

And so, my fellow citizens, on this Twentieth Anniversary of our nation's birthday, may I ask that we rededicate ourselves to the principles and ideals enshrined in our constitution, with an even more determined and concerted effort to paddle our canoe together to reach the Promised Land for generations and generations of Micronesians. Let it be a smooth and successful journey.