Showing posts with label Fiji-Papua New Guinea relations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fiji-Papua New Guinea relations. Show all posts

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fiji Bilaterals- On The Margins Of UN General Assembly 68th Session #2

Fijian Prime Minister Josaia V. Bainimarama met today with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Fiji PM, Voreqe Bainimarama. (Source: MoI)

The Prime Minister congratulated the Secretary-General for his outstanding contribution to achieving the Security Council’s 27 September consensus resolution on Syria.

Presenting the Secretary-General with a copy of Fiji’s Constitution adopted on 6 September 2013, Prime Minister Bainimarama explained to the Secretary-General the key provisions of the Constitution, and the steps that are now being taken towards holding elections before the end of September 2014. “After all the efforts we have put into preparing the ground for these elections, we cannot afford to have anything but a credible and transparent election. We must and will ensure that we have credible elections”, explained the Prime Minister to the Secretary-General.

The Secretary-General thanked Prime Minister Bainimarama for the speedy and expeditious deployment to UNDOF in the Golan Heights. He said this deployment was especially appreciated as it came at a time of great need for UNDOF. He expressed his hope that the Fijian personnel were adjusting well to the situation in UNDOF.

The Secretary-General also congratulated Prime Minister Bainimarama for Fiji’s 2013 Chairmanship of the Group of 77 and China, which he said had been run in a very effective and disciplined manner, receiving widespread support and respect in the UN community.

The Secretary-General further said that G77 support was crucial to United Nations progress on economic and social issues, and he asked that the G77 through Fiji’s Chairmanship remain closely engaged in the process to agree on Sustainable Development Goals and the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda. The Secretary-General and the Prime Minister discussed the importance of the development agenda of the UN as being paramount for the long term interest of the global community.

The Secretary-General stressed efforts needed to elaborate a post-2015 development agenda that is best suited to address the challenges of ending hunger and poverty, and creating better standards of living around the world. -ENDS-



Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov and Fiji PM (MoI)
27 September 2013, New York: Fiji’s Prime Minister Josaia V Bainimarama met with the Russian Federation’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov for talks on further progressing bilateral relations.

They were meeting for the first time since Prime Minister Bainimarama’s historic official visit to Moscow from 27 June -1 July, 2013. The meeting was an opportunity to follow up on agreements reached at the Leaders’ meetings in Moscow, and to put in place arrangements for the implementation of these agreements.

Russia-Fiji bilateral relations have been strengthened through regular interaction at high levels of government, and the Prime Minister said that Fiji looks forward to commemorating the 40th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations with Russia in January 2014.

Earlier in the morning, Fiji’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ratu Inoke Kubuabola co-chaired with Minister Lavrov the annual meeting of Russia-Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) Ministers, now a recurring event in the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Fiji was joined at the annual meeting by Ministers and Senior Officials from Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Samoa, Palau, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia. All PSIDS Members highlighted a request to Russia to support PSIDS concerns in the area of climate change, consequences of which pose real security risks to PSIDS.

PSIDS and Russia also agreed to collaborate on developing a Russia-PSIDS regional Engineering Scholarships Scheme, details of which are to be elaborated by the standing Russia-PSIDS Working Group in New York.



Andora's Foreign Affairs Minister, Gilbert Saboya Sunnye, and Fiji FM (MoI)
27 September, New York: Fiji’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Principality of Andorra, Mr Gilbert Saboya Sunye, signed a joint communiqué formalizing the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The two Ministers expressed the need to strengthen bilateral relations and friendly ties and also expand collaboration at the international fora on the basis of the principles of international law and the UN Charter.

This year marks the Principality’s twentieth anniversary after its admission as a member of the United Nations on 8 July 1993. Minister Sunye expressed the readiness of the Principality to provide assistance to Fiji in various areas, particularly with regards to the tourism sector.

Both, Fiji and Andorra, have strong tourism sectors. With a total population of 70,000 people, Andorra’s tourism industry attracts around 8 million visitors each year.

Minister Kubuabola thanked and the Principality of Andorra for supporting Fiji, and looks forward to closer cooperation between the two countries within the framework of the United Nations.



Turkey's Foreign Minister, Dr Ahmet Davutoglu and Fiji FM (MoI)

27 September 2013, New York: Fiji’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ratu Inoke Kubuabola held a series of bilateral meetings in the margins of the 68th UN General Assembly.

Taking advantage of the large gathering of his counterparts and senior officials from Foreign Ministries from around the world in New York for the General Assembly, Minister Kubuabola was able to meet and discuss with partners matters of mutual interest.

The meetings included sessions with the Foreign Minister of Papua New Guinea, Mr Rimbink Pato, the Minister of State of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, Mr Hugo Swire, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Dr Ahmet Davutoglu, and the Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Ms Mmasekoga Masire-Mwamba.

In all these meetings, Minister Kubuabola highlighted the progress Fiji has made on its Roadmap to Democracy, in particular the 6 September 2013 adoption of Fiji’s Constitution. He highlighted the advertisement of the position of the Supervisor of Elections, and other being steps taken towards the holding of democratic parliamentary elections by September, 2014.

He also took the opportunity to discuss regional institutional structures and the needs of PSIDS in global issues, in particular, climate change demands.



Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak and Fiji PM ( MoI)


26 September 2013, New York: Prime Minister Josaia V. Bainimarama met today with the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands H.E. Christopher Loeak at the margins of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Prime Minister Bainimarama and President Loeak discussed bilateral cooperation between the Marshall Islands and Fiji. President Loeak was particularly appreciative of Fiji’s assistance through the provision of Fiji Water as Fiji’s contribution to drought relief efforts in the Marshall Islands, as well as the assistance provided in the health and education sectors.

Although Fiji did not participate in the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meetings held in Marshall Islands, Prime Minister Bainimarama was pleased to have been able to support the Marshall Islands efforts to host the meeting through the provision of training for protocol officers provided by Fiji.

Prime Minister Bainimarama also thanked President Loeak for the presence of the Marshall Islands at the inaugural meeting of the Pacific Islands Development Forum, which will be focused on issues of core interest to Pacific Small Island Developing States.

The two leaders also discussed a review of the Air Services Agreement between the Marshall Islands and Fiji, towards ensuring that North-South airlinks in the Pacific are enhanced. Work on this is ongoing.

At the conclusion of their fruitful discussions, President Loeak invited PM to visit the Marshall Islands, for which PM Bainimarama was very appreciative.



Argentina's Foreign Minister Hector Timmerman and Fiji FM (MoI)
The Foreign Ministers for Fiji and Argentina held bilateral talks this morning to look at ways of boosting relations between the two countries.

Fiji’s Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola met his Argentine counterpart Minister Hector Timmerman in New York and discussed opportunities for bilateral and triangular cooperation, in particular how Argentina may be able to facilitate bilateral and triangular cooperation projects through the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF).

Minister Timerman suggested organising a meeting with the PIDF to discuss opportunities for such cooperation in Argentina, including a project being worked on by Argentina for desalination projects.

Minister Kubuabola welcomed the holding of such a meeting, and thanked Argentina for having sent an Ambassador to observe at the inaugural meeting of the PIDF.

Minister Kubuabola took the opportunity to brief Minister Timerman on developments in Fiji's roadmap to democracy, including an update on Fiji's new constitution and the way forward for elections to be held by September 2014.

The two Ministers also discussed G77 matters. Argentina having held the Chairmanship of the Group in 2011, the two Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the work of the Group.

Monday, May 20, 2013

PNG Shoots Down PACER Plus, In MSG Trade Talks.

Source: Radio Australia

Pacific trade talks 'waste of time': PNG 
Samisoni Pareti
Mon May 20, 2013

Officials from Papua New Guinea say they are considering withdrawing from free trade negotiations between Pacific Island countries and Australia and New Zealand. PNG's Trade Minister, Richard Maru, on Monday told a meeting of trade ministers from the Melanesian Spearhead Group that his country was considering withdrawing from Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) negotiations.

PNG's Trade Minister, Richard Maru


My country is not interested in PACER Plus, our focus is the MSG Trade Agreement[...]

Our feelings at the moment is that PACER Plus would be one sided in favour of Australia and New Zealand[...]

We are frustrated with them. We can't export our taro there, they wont accept our greens[...]

[PACER Plus negotiations]are a complete waste of time. "
 "My country is not interested in PACER Plus, our focus is the MSG Trade Agreement," Minister Maru told a press conference convened at the end of the meeting at the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa in Nadi.
Fifteen countries are involved in the PACER negotiations, with the aim of helping Pacific Islands Forum countries benefit from enhanced regional trade and economic integration.

Asked whether PNG would withdraw immediately from PACER Plus negotiation talks, Mr Maru said the matter is under serious review by PNG's government. "Our feelings at the moment is that PACER Plus would be one sided in favour of Australia and New Zealand," he said. "We are frustrated with them. We can't export our taro there, they wont accept our greens.There's nothing to be gained from a trade agreement at the moment. We cannot justify the huge amount of resources we expend on such negotiations. They are a complete waste of time."

Asked for Fiji's position on PNG's stand, the country's Minister for Trade and Attorney General, Mr Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, said Fiji sees a lot of merit in PNG's position. He said Melanesian countries need to consolidate their trading capacities first before they look at free trade pacts with their bigger neighbours.

Papua New Guinea's Minister for Trade Richard Maru, Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Fiji Patterson Oti and Vanuatu's Minister for Trade Marcellino Pipite give their governments views on PACER and PACER Plus negotiations. (Video posted below)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Fiji and PNG Defense Cooperation.

In the wake of a successful Fiji business delegation and State visit to Papua New Guinea (PNG), a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is being drawn up, detailing the terms of a proposed Defense cooperation between Fiji and PNG.

The Fiji Military, with many years of operational experience in peacekeeping missions under the United Nations (UN) banner, are earmarked to train PNG army officers. Fiji's Permanent Secretary of Defence, Jale Fotofili also outlined the possibility of a joint Fiji/PNG operation in peacekeeping missions, in an interview with FBC TV news (video posted below).

Friday, April 19, 2013

X-Post: Grubsheet - The Pacific Axis Shifts.

Source: Grubsheet

An outstanding success: Voreqe Bainimarama arrives in Port Moresby (Photo:ABC)
An outstanding success: Voreqe Bainimarama arrives in Port Moresby (Photo:ABC)

There’s elation in Fijian Government circles over the highly successful outcome of this week’s visit to Papua New Guinea by the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, at the head of the biggest Fijian trade and investment mission ever to visit another country. The original aims of the visit were ambitious enough – to lay more of the foundation for the creation of a single, integrated market for the countries of the Melanesian Spearhead Group. Yet the results exceeded even the most ambitious expectations of the PM, his Foreign Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, and the trade delegation of 65 Fijian business leaders from 47 companies. 

Commodore Bainimarama described himself as being “on a high”. And the normally ultra-calm and measured Permanent Secretary for Trade and Industry, Shaheen Ali, said he was “overwhelmed” by the “marvelous” outcome of the visit. Within hours, some of the Fijian companies were already receiving orders and entering into agreements with PNG suppliers and distributors. And by day two of the mission, two more Fijian businesses had registered as foreign investors in PNG. This is in addition to the F$180-million investment by Fiji’s national superannuation fund, the FNPF, in Bemobile – a major telecommunications provider in PNG and Solomon Islands – and the management takeover of its operations by Vodafone Fiji.

The Fijian Government sees itself as equal partners with PNG in ultimately leading the other MSG countries into an economic union to improve the lives of every Melanesian. There’s a notable absence of rivalry of the sort we’ve witnessed over the years in Europe, where Germany, France and Britain have consistently maneuvered for advantage in the European Union. As Fiji sees it, Papua New Guinea has the biggest market – seven million people compared to around 900,000 here – plus the massive wealth that flows from its minerals and energy sectors. And Fiji has an established manufacturing base, a skilled and educated workforce and is positioned at the crossroads of the Pacific. 

In other words, their assets are complimentary. Each country has its particular challenges – Papua New Guinea with corruption and lawlessness and Fiji still grappling with finally putting to rest the divisions that have hampered its development since Independence. Yet there’s a strong feeling on both sides that working in tandem in a joint leadership role is the best way to improve the lives of their own citizens and their Melanesian brothers and sisters in the smaller MSG states. 

There’s no doubt that Melanesian solidarity generally was a big beneficiary of this visit. As Commodore Bainimarama put it, PNG -Fiji ties go way beyond the mutual respect and cooperation that is the traditional benchmark of diplomacy. The peoples of both countries genuinely like each other, enjoy each other’s company and share a vision of a stronger Melanesia building a common economic and political future for all its citizens. And of course, both Governments bear significant grudges against the most dominant power in the region, Australia, which they regard as generally arrogant, overbearing and indifferent to Melanesian sensibilities. The same applies to New Zealand, albeit to a lesser extent.

As Grubsheet has written before, Australia’s mishandling of its Pacific neighbours – and especially Fiji – is a mistake of historical proportions. Its failure to fully engage with them, let alone comprehend their challenges, and its propensity to prescribe and even hector, has driven influential Pacific countries like Fiji and PNG further into each other’s arms and the arms of others outside the region. The Australian trade union heavies and their stooge of a Prime Minister who currently determine Pacific policy – and the foreign affairs establishment which implements it – seem to have little concept of Melanesian sensitivities and protocols. 

It’s well known in Suva than even the mention of Australia can trigger a surge of anger in Prime Minister Bainimarama, who feels sorely aggrieved that Canberra chose not to even  sit down with him, let alone try and comprehend his reforms. During this visit, the PM kept his counsel, adhering to the diplomatic convention of not criticising another country on someone else’s soil. In fact, it was the Papua New Guineans who made unflattering public comments about Australia. PNG’s Trade Minister, Richard Maru, accused Canberra of using his country as a “dumping ground” for its goods and said it wasn’t in Australia’s interests for the Melanesian countries to become self sufficient in anything. If that was what was being said publicly, then we can be sure that the language behind the scenes would have been a lot more colourful. The shared grievances of both governments about Australia would have been fully aired.

Certainly, there was general astonishment about the way in which this visit appeared to have been downplayed by Australia’s national broadcaster, the ABC, which also has a significant presence in PNG. Aside from one story that correctly cited a series of “historic” agreements, the rest of the visit was generally ignored. Indeed on the first day, Radio Australia’s current affairs program, Pacific Beat, chose to lead with an item criticising Fiji’s constitutional process rather than give weight to the region’s two biggest and most influential island countries forging closer ties. It merely reinforced the notion in Fijian minds of the ABC’s chronic bias against the Bainimarama Government and Radio Australia as a lapdog of Canberra’s foreign policy. By any normal journalistic standard, this was a big Pacific story of significant interest to the populations of PNG and Fiji and, to a lesser extent, those of Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the Kanaks of New Caledonia, who make up the rest of the MSG. It was buried. 

Is Australia sensitive about the fact that its so-called smart sanctions against Fiji haven’t turned out to be smart at all? You bet. American diplomats report that far from modifying their policies in the face of defeat, the Australians have stepped up their efforts internationally to isolate Fiji. Was Commodore Bainimarama’s visit a collective two-finger salute to Australia? Well, maybe just a little. Yet the overriding sentiment in official circles in Suva nowadays is that Australian attitudes are irrelevant. In any event, Blind Freddy can see that Julia Gillard’s Government is toast -with a 29 per cent primary vote in the most recent opinion poll – and that Australian policy towards Fiji is bound to be more realistic, if not more favourable, when the Coalition’s Tony Abbott storms into power in the Australian election in September. A full year out from the promised Fijian poll, Abbott and his likely foreign minister, Julie Bishop, will have ample time to end Labor’s vendetta and rebuild the relationship. 

There were many highpoints of this visit, not least the Bemobile signing -Fiji’s biggest foreign investment on behalf of all Fijians through the FNPF in one of the most dynamic sectors of the global economy- telecommunications. The Government’s critics continually harp on about the FNPF putting the retirement savings of ordinary Fijians at risk. Yet with Vodafone Fiji running Bemobile, the potential to grow that investment seems rock solid. In Fiji, there are more mobile phones than people – a penetration rate of 105 per cent. In Papua New Guinea, the penetration rate is 35 per cent. That’s a lot of potential customers and a lot of mobile phones.

Among other highlights of the visit:

  • ·      The announcement that citizens of both countries will no longer require visas to visit each other. This is on top of existing plans to achieve a seamless flow of labour between the MSG countries.

  •  ·      The provision for retired Fijian civil servants – who are obliged to vacate their jobs at 55 – to work in Papua New Guinea to boost the local skills base.

  •  ·      The plan for a permanent Fiji Trade Mission in Port Moresby and the continuation of the joint effort to break down the remaining impediments to trade and investment, with a view to developing a common market.

  • Most important of all – at least in the shorter term – is the financial support Papua New Guinea has offered Fiji to conduct its election in September 2014 and introduce the first genuine parliamentary democracy in the country’s history of one-person, one vote, one value.

According to officials travelling with Commodore Bainimarama, the PM couldn’t believe his ears when the amount of the PNG contribution was announced out of the blue by his opposite number, Peter O’Neill. “What did he say?”, he asked. At first, the Ministry of Information flashed a media release that the amount was 15-million Kina. But it soon became clear that the fifteen was actually FIFTY. A sense of astonishment, delight and gratitude swept the Fijian delegation and text messages lit up in the corridors of power in Suva. More than 40-million Fijian dollars!  By any standards and especially in the Pacific, it is an astonishingly generous amount. 

This contribution has sealed the Fiji-PNG relationship and laid to rest the concerns of some that PNG was more intent on cementing its own interests during this visit than pursuing a genuinely equal partnership. It means that Fiji no longer requires other outside assistance to finance the poll, and especially from those countries or groups of countries like the European Union, which appear more interested in using the money as political leverage than in assisting Fijians to determine their own future. Instead of having election observers from the EU – as happened controversially in 2006 – the Prime Minister wants election observers from PNG and the other MSG countries. He accused the EU observers of endorsing a “flawed” election in 2006 and said Fiji wanted an observer group with “integrity”. This will not be music to the ears of Fiji’s voluble EU Ambassador, Andrew Jacobs, who before the PNG announcement, was telling people that Fiji would need to  approach the EU for assistance and accept certain conditions that are now decidedly moot.

With Commodore Bainimarama having now travelled across the world to New York to chair a meeting of the G77 Plus China and the rest of the Fijian delegation making its way home, it’s clear that this visit has been an outstanding success. History may also judge it as the week that Fiji and PNG cemented their common future and came to realise more fully the potential they have – working together – to establish the MSG as the pre-eminent regional grouping and its integration as the best way to improve the lives of all Melanesians. One thing is certain. The axis of power in the Pacific is gradually shifting, whether Australia, NZ and their Polynesian client states such as Samoa like it or not.  

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