Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia

Compact Negotiations

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Congress): January 10, 2003 - Senator Isaac V. Figir is not happy with the negotiations of the compact. During the 2nd day of the 4th Special Session of the 12th Congress January 10, he made the following remarks:

"Mr. Speaker and Esteemed Colleagues:

I rise on a point of personal privilege to express my deep concerns over the status of our negotiations with the United States regarding the second Compact of Free Association.

First, I want to make clear that my comments are not directed at the Joint Negotiating Committee. I have only the highest regard for each of the members and the manner in which they have conducted these negotiations. They have done an outstanding job in the face of difficult and, it seems to me, at times, unreasonable challenges. I think that the nation ewes them a great debt of gratitude.

My concerns, instead, relate to what I perceive as the general spirit of the negotiations on the part of the United States. As you all know, the people of the FSM and the United States have enjoyed a long and warm relationship. I think we would all agree that we consider the United States a good "friend", and we hope that the feeling is mutual. And as a friend, we have stood side-by-side with the United States on every international issue, including supporting their global war against terrorism. We have even gone so far as to offer our sons and daughters to serve in their military, making it our war, as well.

Thus, I am surprised and dismayed at both the attitude of our counterparts and the results of our negotiations. Sadly, I do not believe that the United States has treated the process or the FSM with the regard that it should a sovereign equal and a friend.

The United States has publicly criticized our handling of our internal financial affairs. Much of their criticism is valid. We have made mistakes. But I would remind our friends that in the years before self-rule, we received little or no training or experience in managing the fiscal activities of a nation. We had little to prepare us for the realities of such a talk.

Thus, it is no surprise that we would make mistakes. But all nations, even old nations, make mistakes. And, like any nation, we will learn from our mistakes. But the important point is that they are our mistakes. They are our lessons to learn.

I am not saying that I do not appreciate the United States' concern for our well being. I do. A friend should offer assistance when he sees a friend in trouble. But a friend who sees a problem in a neighbor's house should not take over the running of his house. A friend should offer help and advice, but he should respect his neighbor's right to run his own household. So it should be among nations.

Unfortunately, I think the assistance offered by the United States violates this principle. The help our friends offer is to supervise our governmental operations for the next twenty years. They would, in essence, run our house.

To a large extent, JEMCO, not our elected officials, will determine how our funds are spent and how our government will function. We would be forced to abandon that most basic of all sovereign rights. Further, the most sums they have offered to establish our trust fund would virtually guarantee our dependence on the United States or some other donor nation forever.

Finally, we were assured throughout the negotiation process that, if we would agree to the basic framework of the Compact, we would be allowed to plead our case on these and other crucial unresolved matters to the of the United States Congress. Now we have been informed that the Compact will not be presented to Congress until it is finalized. Thus, we cannot take our case to the elected representatives of the American people. It grieves me that I must now wonder if the United States administration ha truly been negotiating in good faith.

But, even assuming that the US ha acted in good faith, we would not presume to tell another nation how to run its affairs. We ask only for the same consideration. So long as we are the legal and legitimate representatives of our citizens, and so long as we act within the scope of our laws and constitution, we must be allowed to govern in the manner we see fit. We represent the people of the Federated States of Micronesia. We are a sovereign nation. After a century of foreign domination, I can stand here before you and make that statement today. We must not take that lightly.

We, the members of the congress, have been given a sacred trust, the future of our nation. We are at a crossroads. Out decision on whether to accept or reject the United States proposals will determine the fate, not only of you and me, and the people who put us here, but also the future of generations of Micronesians.

We must think about them. How will our decisions today impact our people five generations from now? I have considered it. And, regrettably, I have concluded that I cannot in good conscience support the proposal currently offered by the United States.

Our friends, and I do consider them friends, fought a bloody war to gain the freedoms and sovereign rights that they enjoy today. They sacrificed their lives for that cause. Their famous cry, "give me liberty or give me death" was, for them, a literal truth.

Now we must choose whether we will surrender our sovereign rights as a nation. But we don't face the barrels of cannons or muskets and bayonets. We face only the reality of living within our financial means, of living responsibly within the confines of the resources that we possess.

We must decide. Will we sacrifice our freedom, our sovereignty, our very dignity? Will we trade these priceless ideals for more televisions to undermine our culture, for more cars to clog and choke our roads, for more imported foods that poison us? Are we really so shortsighted? So weak?

I say no. We will not go back. We cannot. We will never return to the days of foreign domination. For the sake of our fathers. For the sake of our children. For the sake of ourselves, and even for the sake our friends in the United States who, if they could but remember their own history, would never ask us to do so.

No, Mr. Speaker, colleagues, I cannot betray my duty to this nation and to its children five generations hence. I will not have them say of me that, when called upon to sacrifice so little, I gave away so much their very future as a nation.

I hope that you and the members of this congress will join me in rejecting the United States proposal. Sometimes, no matter what the cost, dignity and honor require that one must simply turn and walk way.

I say that we, the sovereign peoples of the Federated States of Micronesia, today must turn and walk away. Thank you for yor attentions."

Some members of Congress also expressed agreement with the statement and requested that a leadership meeting be called by the President of the FSM to review the status of the FSM proposal for the renegotiations and set direction for the JCN.

For further information on this release, please contact:

Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia
Public Information Office
P.O Box PS-3
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2324/2325
Fax.: (691) 320-5122