Interview: World leaders can expect "cultural extravaganza" at APEC summit, says PNG minister

Source: Xinhua| 2018-09-08 17:04:48|Editor: Yurou
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by Yang Jingzhong, Zhang Ning, Levi J Parsons

PORT MORESBY, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- Papua New Guinea's (PNG) minister responsible for Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Justin Tkatchenko, has told Xinhua in an exclusive interview earlier this week, that world leaders can expect a "cultural extravaganza" at the upcoming summit.

Now just two months away, the APEC Leaders Meeting to be hosted in Port Moresby, has brought a huge amount of attention to the South Pacific nation and according to Tkatchenko, it's an amazing opportunity to show off the proud and rich culture of PNG.

"While the world is watching... we will be showcasing all our provinces, their traditions and their traditional costumes," he said.

"When all the world leaders arrive off their planes at Port Moresby Airport, they won't be welcomed by a military salute or a military guard of honor, they'll be welcomed by traditional groups from the different provinces to give them a real welcome to PNG!"

With an air of excitement around the capital city, businesses, the government and local residents are bursting at the seams in anticipation for the historic event.

But as the summit draws closer, Tkatchenko admits there's been enormous logistical challenges to overcome, in order to make sure operations run smoothly.

Expecting upward of 8,000 delegates, media members and support staff for the APEC Leaders Meeting and the CEO summit, PNG officials have had to come up with some very creative ways to house the giant influx of visitors.

"The biggest obstacle is accommodation," Tkatchenko said.

"We only have about 2,500 beds on land with the hotels that we have, so to counteract that big gap, we've brought in three cruise liners."

Able to accommodate over 6,000 people, Tkatchenko said the government decided on the luxury floating hotels to make the event more economically sustainable for the city.

"The government doesn't have to invest millions in building all these brand new hotels and then after APEC when everybody leaves all the hotels are not making money and there's no one to fill them," he said.

"So the floating hotels, the big cruise liners, solve the problem."

Other issues like transportation and communications equipment have also presented organizers with a number of hurdles.

"Thanks to the Chinese government with the supplying of buses, vehicles and other things (radio and communications gear), all has been covered, so we're very happy," Tkatchenko said.

With preparations now "99 percent complete," the minister hit back at highly publicized criticisms around security, calling them "exaggerated" and "ridiculous".

To ensure safety, a joint buildup of 1,800 military personnel from the United States, Australia and New Zealand will be on hand working with the PNG armed forces as a precautionary measure.

"I sleep very well knowing security for all the world leaders will be first class," Tkatchenko said.

"For the last three years the Australian government defense force, New Zealand and the Papua New Guinea defense force have been working on air, land and sea from day one."

While APEC is an organization centered around trade, economic policy and geo-political discussion, most people around the globe probably know it best for the famous colorful shirts.

Always a favorite moment for the world's media, the leader's group photo in the specially designed ensembles presents one of the best photo opportunities in global politics.

"There is a shirt that the prime minister is designing which will have traditional patterns and motifs on, to promote our country and the 21 different provinces," Tkatchenko said.

"I think it's like a safari suit, with different PNG icons... but it's a surprise."

As for the famous leader's pins, this year local jewelers have been making the souvenir's out of 18 carat PNG gold in the shape of the bird of paradise, which is the country's national symbol.

"It's going to be a huge event and at the end of the day we will be celebrating the success of APEC," Tkatchenko said.

"I will ensure, the police minister will ensure, our prime minister will ensure that this event will be an absolute success."