Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Manasseh Sogavare has questioned the true spirit of the members within the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), by stating that non-granting of the 5th Freedom Right by Fiji to Solomon Islands is an issue.
DPM said this strong desire by Solomon Islands to enjoy fifth freedom rights, through direct flights to and from countries in other parts of the world has been denied by Fiji, although negotiation made through the MSG.
He said Fiji continues to refuse to give Solomon Islands the fifth freedom right to access direct flights to other countries which raised the question whether thy are true brothers under MSG.
Sogavare told Parliament last week that Fiji continue to enjoy direct flights to America and Asia but refuse to give Solomon Islands the fifth freedom right, though attempts have been made under MSG.
The fifth freedom right allows an airline to carry revenue traffic between foreign countries as a part of services connecting the airline’s own country. It is the right to carry passengers from one’s own country to a second country and from that country to a third country and so on.
“We still negotiate fifth freedom right under Melanesian brotherhood but Fiji have routes to LA and other parts of the world which we don’t have that freedom,” said the former Prime Minister.
“So are we true brothers under MSG?” he questioned.
He raised the issue of fifth freedom right as an example of some member countries within MSG who are not genuine in their heart as Melanesian brothers.
Mr Sogavare said such treatment is obvious in the application by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) to become a full member in MSG.
By AATAI JOHN LAUNGI, Solomon Star News