The issue of kava in the 27-member European Parliament has been agreed to as a “bilateral issue” and according to Vanuatu’s former Dean of Ambassadors to the EU, Roy Mickey Joy, this is understood.
Regarding Poland’s position on kava, the former senior diplomat says, “My advice is for the Vanuatu Government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to request through a diplomatic note through the Vanuatu High Commission in Canberra to the Polish Embassy in Canberra, to kick-start the process of dialogue. That is the first part.
“The second part, I think the work done by the ACP and EU through the consultants who were engaged for many years on kava (before, during and after the ban) and the great work that’s been done through the Ministry of Agriculture and the FAO in Rome, is an adequate representation of the technical scientific work that’s been completed on kava and there should be no issue on this.
“We respect the sovereignty of a sovereign states like Poland therefore it is to the interest of Vanuatu that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs establish dialogue with the Polish Embassy in Canberra, with a view to concluding the issue as soon as possible.”
He says the European Parliament will soon debate the issue of kava entering all EU member states including Poland.
While that may proceed soon, he advises, “I think it is of great interest that the Government of Vanuatu ought to intervene through a diplomatic note through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as soon as possible, with a view to open up dialogue leading to the Polish Government taking a positive position on the issue of kava”.
He describes the situation on kava in Poland as “paradoxical” for 26 member states to keep silent on the issue and allow Poland to “raise its own flag on kava”.
“I do not know how many ni-Vanuatu live in Poland but I know for a fact that there are Polish kava consumers in Poland and that is something I realized when I was still in Brussels,” he says.
He is confident the issue regarding kava in Poland is an ideal opportunity for political engagement between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Polish Embassy in Canberra to find a long lasting solution to facilitating market access of kava to Poland.
During the EU/ACP Joint Council of Ministers Meeting in Port Vila in 2012, then Deputy Prime Minister Ham Lini Vanuaroroa, capitalized on the delegates present to invite approximately 80 of them to drink kava for the first time at his nakamal at Teouma.
“As Vanuatu’s Ambassador to the EU, I was also present and our diplomatic guests were treated to one of the best kava in the world, prepared and served in Pentecost traditional way through ‘bwasisi’ and nobody died, and some of them went back to Brussels with kava powder, while others came to the Vanuatu Embassy and asked for kava and I told them, ‘Sorry we don’t sell kava in the Embassy’.
“That kava session at Teouma was a major public relations breakthrough that the Deputy Prime Minister Ham Lini Vanuaroroa did,” he explains.
The kava ceremony also broke the ice to prove to the EU/ACP delegates that kava was not harmful to the drinker.
It was later used as evidence in the German court to throw the DfArM allegation out the window that kava made the drinker sick.