Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

Ambassador Cox of Australia says farewell to FSM

Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services): February 17, 2011 - Today, Ambassador Susan Cox of the Australian Embassy in FSM returns home to take up residence back in Canberra, Australia. Cox was the dean of the diplomatic corps, having spent three and a half years with the Embassy in Pohnpei.

Prior to her departure, she took the time to meet for an interview with Judy Mahan, FSM Public Information Officer, to share her thoughts regarding her work experience in FSM. Following are excerpts from the interview:

FSMPIO: When coming to FSM, what was your understanding of Australia's role in the region of your accreditation(FSM, Palau & RMI)?

COX: In the 90's, I used to be the desk officer for the small island states; so before coming to FSM, I knew about the history and the unique relationship between the Freely Associated States and the United States and knew that Australia was keen to also develop its own relationship with the FAS. Australia is part of the Pacific region and a neighbor to the FAS, as such, Australia has common aspirations in the region. Australia hopes to assist the FAS without duplicating or working contrary to the work being performed by the U.S. in the region. More specifically, Australia hopes to work on regional energy issues and labor mobility, two key areas for Australia.

FSMPIO: Following your tenure in FSM, has your vision regarding that role evolved? Has living in FSM impacted your perceptions?

COX: It did not come as a surprise, but I did learn and realize the importance of each individual State within the Federated States of Micronesia. The many levels of government in the FSM, at the local, state and national level, make it seem difficult to get things done; however, these levels of government also present a real opportunity. I recall one of my professors in economics stating that federations make much better decisions in the long run than single entity states; that is because the debates generated at the local, state and national levels, may take time, but provide better solutions and outcomes in the long-run.

FSMPIO: What do you consider to have been some of the major accomplishments you have achieved in FSM during your tenure here as the representative Australian Ambassador?

COX: During my tenure, Australia gifted two Patrol Boats - the Independence and the Palikir - to FSM pursuant to our Pacific Patrol Boat Program. In conjunction with this, we have a great training program in place for the crews managing these boats. We have been very pleased by the manner in which the whole program fell into place. We were also pleased to see President Mori sign the Pacific Partnership for Development Agreement with Australia. Through this partnership agreement, the parties identified three areas in which Australia will seek to provide assistance to the FSM: i) economic and financial reform, including the tax reform; ii) strategic coordination; and iii) environmental management. Under this partnership agreement, separate programs will be established for each state; each state will have its own budget and activities. The agreement also provides for annual consultations to analyze whether or not priorities need to be changed. We want to add value.

FSMPIO: How would you describe FSM's strengths and weaknesses from a foreign investment perspective?

COX: The agricultural and fisheries resources are a huge potential in all four states. And each of the four states has its own specific potential from a tourism perspective. In Pohnpei, every tourist who visits the ruins of Nan Madol is simply blown away; Yap is fascinating with its stone money and its canoe culture; in Chuuk, the diving is spectacular; and Kosrae is so attractive because it is still incredibly unspoiled. Foreign investment provides a country with the additional resources to develop its potential. However, I understand the reservations any country may have towards foreign investment; it has to be balanced against the country's need for preservation. FSM will need a regulatory environment that will both allow for development, as well as preserve its interests. It is a scary, but necessary endeavor.

FSMPIO: What do you think will be the key projects in which your successor will be involved in?

COX: My successor will be here to oversee the implementation phase of the Pacific Partnership Development Agreement. It will be a new phase focused on consolidating and developing Australia's partnership further with FSM. I hope we will continue to work on the protection of the fisheries resources. And hopefully, Radio Australia will soon be launched in FSM.

FSMPIO: On a personal level, what will be your most memorable experience here in FSM?

COX: In Pohnpei, I really enjoyed handing out the prizes to the students who participated in the World Food Day Essay Competition. I was very impressed by the children's enthusiasm and their work product. In Chuuk, I had very positive experiences working with the Chuuk Women's Council; I worked with the council on a diabetes awareness project and other education projects. In Yap, I had the chance to take part in one of the Canoe Festivals; the Embassy was able to fund the construction of three traditional canoes by the Yap Canoe Conservation Society. And in Kosrae, we worked on small but very worthwhile projects with the private sector; specifically a local food packaging project for the export market. Working with Steve George from Kosrae was a delight!

For further information on this release, please contact:

FSM Office of the President
Public Information: Press, Radio, Video
P.O Box 34
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092
Fax.: (691) 320-4356