Japan Hears Pacific Way
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama addressed fellow Pacific island leaders yesterday during the PALM7 Summit and reminded them that the Pacific way of dealing with issues was not to be ostracising countries.
The PALM7 meeting ended at Iwaki City, Fukushima, in Japan yesterday.
Mr Bainimarama spoke to the media before leaving for Sendai where he addressed Japanese businesspeople who marketed Fijian products in Japan.
He said Fiji looked forward to further discussions on the findings tabled during the PALM Summit, with other Pacific island leaders.
“I spoke at length today about the Pacific Way, I heard a lot about families- the Pacific families, and I said that we should continue as one if we want to be a family and if we want to do things the Pacific Way and that is to look after one another and accept the differences that exist.
“The last thing we want is of course ostracising one of our own for what we are trying to do back in Fiji.”
He said they were happy about the manner in which Fiji was received by Japan during this meeting. Fiji was left out of the last two PALM summits and Mr Bainimarama made this known during informal discussions with other dignitaries, including Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
“PALM has gone extremely well. As you know this is my first presence in PALM and they have come up with a lot of genuine and useful topics for us to talk about with regards to sustainable development especially climate change.
“All that Japan has offered us has been received with a lot of gratefulness on our part and certainly we look forward to continue discussions with Japan- not only about the region but also about Fiji.
“I thank Prime Minister Abe for the invite. This was the first time for me to attend this summit even though I have been around for eight years. As I said about PM of Tonga and Julie Bishop, who said that this was also their first time attending this summit, but mine is slightly different.
“The reasons for my absence and me being here for the first time is totally different than their first time being here,” he said.
On the peripheries of the PALM7 Summit Fiji took time to check on the ongoing seasonal worker scheme with Australian Foreign Minister Bishop and New Zealand Education Minister Nikki Kaye.
“We talked about the seasonal worker scheme in Australia that has started and we are very grateful for that. And so during discussions with the New Zealand Minister (Nikki Kaye) we also discussed about how well the programme was being run,” the PM said.
There has been some talks about Indonesia’s intention to become an associate member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
Prime Minister Bainimarama said having Indonesia as an associate member made sense given the population in Papua who were also Melanesians.
Mr Bainimarama said while Fiji was not going to interfere in Indonesia’s sovereignty, Fiji was sure that if Indonesia was engaged about the alleged human rights violation, they would act on it.
“There is a whole lot of talk about Papua but you know Papua comes under the governance of Indonesia and if you want to do anything in Papua, the best thing to do is to bring in Indonesia, no matter what, if we bring in Papua separately, it doesn’t make sense.
“Indonesia will continue to do what it wants to do. We have heard talks of assault, human rights abuses and the best thing to do is to bring in Indonesia as an associate member of the MSG.
“There is a lot of concern about what is happening in Papua but at the end of the day, Papua comes under the sovereignty of Indonesia and the last thing we want to do is to interfere with someone else’s sovereignty. As our foreign policy says- “We are friends to all and enemies to none.”
“We don’t want to make enemies and I am sure if we talk to Indonesia about some of these allegations they will do something about it- it makes sense.”