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Bainimarama Tells Key:Fiji Seeks New Political Level

Fiji seeks a new political relationship with New Zealand that is more equal, says Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. “More rooted in mutual respect,” he told New Zealand Prime Minister John
10 Jun 2016 10:06
Bainimarama Tells Key:Fiji  Seeks New Political Level
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key while inspect the Guard of Honour at Nausori Air-port yesterday. Photo: RONALD KUMAR.

Fiji seeks a new political relationship with New Zealand that is more equal, says Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

“More rooted in mutual respect,” he told New Zealand Prime Minister John Key at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva last night.

He said: “For all our closeness at a people-to-people level” Fiji sought more understanding on New Zealand’s part “of our own priorities”  – “whether it is on the trade front with the PACER Plus negotiations or our desire to reform our regional architecture to give Pacific Islanders a bigger voice.”

He said the strains and irritants that had marked our political relationship in recent years “are a textbook lesson on how not to conduct friendly relations between neighbouring governments.”

They must be replaced by genuine co-operation and understanding, he added.

“And I ask you and your government to work with us to create a better framework in which to conduct our affairs. Less prescriptive. More consultative. More understanding of the challenges we face,” he said.

“We are not New Zealand. We have different challenges and priorities. We are not the New Zealand democracy. Evolved and robust. We are the Fijian democracy. Finally genuine yet still in its relative infancy and with institutions that need to be strengthened. “And we are not the New Zealand economy. Our economy needs to have its fundamentals protected and strengthened to empower all Fijians.

“I appeal to you to work with us to build those institutions, strengthen our democracy, work with us to improve the lives of Fijians and other Pacific islands. “Help us build strong institutions without political bias or interference. Help us build our resilience to climate change and access financial facilities we need to do so.

“Your aid must complement the implementation of our policy agenda, not undermine it. After all, we don’t always want to be dependent on aid. And this can only be achieved if we work in a collaborative manner.

“Work with us because there are many lucrative business opportunities for New Zealand companies given the liberalisation and modernisation of the Fijian economy under my Government.

“Prime Minister, a great partnership is possible, one based on mutual confidence and trust. So I look forward to our talks tomorrow and once again, welcome to Fiji.

“It’s been a long time between drinks, as they say – 10 years since we last had a New Zealand Prime Minister here, even though we now welcome over 100,000 Kiwis every year. We hope that like them, Fiji will be where happiness finds you. But just don’t talk about the rugby.”

“I am coming to our talks tomorrow in a genuine spirit of engagement. Of letting bygones be bygones and setting our relationship and that of our nations on a new course.”

 

Feedback:  rosi.doviverata@fijisun.com.fj

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