Sunvoice

EDITORIAL: Old friends Reuniting Quickly Comes As No Surprise

The turnout of high-ranking Fijian Government officials led by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at the commemoration of Waitangi Day in Suva indicates the warmth of relations between Fiji and New
08 Feb 2015 09:53

The turnout of high-ranking Fijian Government officials led by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at the commemoration of Waitangi Day in Suva indicates the warmth of relations between Fiji and New Zealand,

It follows the resumption of diplomatic and military ties between the two countries.

Last December, the NZ Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee visited Fiji.

A high-powered military delegation also visited and held talks with its counterparts in Fiji.

On January 31, a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion from No 5 Squadron carried out a maritime surveillance patrol of Fiji’s Exclusive Economic Zone. The flight marked the first significant military contact between the two countries since bilateral defence ties were suspended in December 2006.

Mr Brownlee recognised that “such patrols assist our South West Pacific partners to manage marine resources and deter illegal and unauthorised activities within their EEZs.”

The inaugural patrol coincided with the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of No 5 Squadron’s withdrawal from Laucala Bay, Suva, from where the Squadron flew Catalina and later Sunderland Flying Boats boats from World War 2 onwards.

The latest co-operation between the two countries is the 30 Fijian seasonal workers who will be leaving soon to work in New Zealand.

These activities show that New Zealand is serious about strengthening its relations with Fiji.

Mr Bainimarama and his senior Government ministers including Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum have responded by turning out in force.

But they stayed away from the recent Australia Day celebrations. It was a message to Canberra that they were not happy with the negative attitude of some of its officials towards Fiji.

Despite Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop’s attempts; Australia has been slow in proving that it is also serious about re-building relations.

Fiji and New Zealand have a long standing relationship that Mr Bainimarama says “has endured the test of recent times.”

His following statement clearly indicates the reasons why his Government attended Waitangi Day celebrations instead of Australia Day. He said: “The current re-engagement taking place at various levels is a positive indication of our mutual desire and commitment to strengthen our friendship and enhance our co-operation on bilateral, regional and global issues.”

The re-engagement happening at various levels has been the key factor in determining the Government’s position.

Obviously, Australia’s rhetorics have not translated into action. Those close to Mr Bainimarama know that he is a man who believes in action and practises it.

There is no letup in the intensity of the implementation of his Government policies since it came into power.

Australia could take its cue from New Zealand if it seriously wants to re-engage Fiji.

Traditionally, Fiji and New Zealand have a lot in common. New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji Mark Ramsden highlights some of the similarities:

– Our indigenous people share traditions and ancestry.

– Former British colonies

– Now vibrant bicultural and multicultural societies

– Shared economic challenges and opportunities from our islandness and remoteness

– Fantastic tourist destinations

– Highly dependent on agriculture as mainstay of economy

– And shared cameradie and pride on fields of sport and war.

Therefore it has come as no surprise that the two countries have quickly reunited as old friends.

 

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj




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