World Leaders Talk To PM Bainimarama

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has taken our international diplomacy to a whole new level. His personal contacts with world leaders is unprecedented. And they keep expanding. Less than three years
26 May 2017 09:10
World Leaders Talk To PM Bainimarama
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has taken our international diplomacy to a whole new level.

His personal contacts with world leaders is unprecedented. And they keep expanding.

Less than three years after he was elected as the most popular Fijian leader, he has built up an impressive list of world leaders he has courted. Mr Bainimarama’s simple, down to earth  and principled approach to issues has impressed his counterparts.

Here are some of the world’s leaders he has rubbed shoulders with:


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Mr Modi tops the list. He was the first foreign leader to visit Fiji after the 2014 general election. It was the first visit by an Indian PM since Indira Gandhi in 1981. He announced a $75 million line of credit for the sugar industry, and visas on arrival for Fijians, more education scholarship, defence co-operation, and  building a “Digital Fiji.”

On Wednesday Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, General (Ret’d) Vijay Kumar Singh and Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum signed a memorandum of understanding in Suva for the establishment of a Centre of Excellence in Information Technology.

Mr Modi is the second-most popular world leader on Facebook. In Twitter, he has the  third largest following among world leaders. But in India,  he is a rock star. He receives the same accolade in other countries. Since they first met in Suva in 2014, Mr Modi and Mr Bainimarama have built a strong relationship and strengthened bilateral relations between the two countries.

It is interesting that 74 per cent of supporters of the rival Indian National Congress Party (INC) also see Mr Modi favourably. Mr Bainimarama can count on India when it comes to important issues like climate change.


Chinese leader Xi Jinping 

President Xi  followed Mr Modi for a visit to Fiji in 2014. He has continued the close relationships between Fiji and China after it stuck with Fiji when other traditional partners deserted Fiji in the wake of the 2006 takeover. In China, President Xi’s popularity keeps growing.

According to a survey conducted by Bloomberg in 2014,  President Xi  emerged as the leader with highest approval rating among Chinese.

President Xi’s ambition to make China a global superpower is popular with the ordinary Chinese. The “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) advances this aim. Mr Bainimarama’s attendance in Beijing clearly showed the close relationship between the two leaders.


Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull

Mr Bainimarama and Mr Turnbull met earlier this month in Australia to discuss among other bilateral issues, climate change and its impact on the region and the rest of the world.

The talks cleared the barriers that existed between the two countries on issues that had existed pre-2014. Last week Australia announced it was contributing AUS$6 million towards the cost for the Fijian presidency of COP23.


Russian President, Vladimir Putin

Mr Bainimarama met Mr Putin in Beijing during the Belt and Road meeting.  Their meeting reinforces the growing ties between the two countries. Last year Russia donated arms, equipment and trucks to enhance Fijian peacekeeping efforts.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Mrs Merkel has declared that she will stand by Mr Bainimarama and the Fijian presidency of COP23. Not only is she the most powerful woman in the world, she commands respect throughout the global community. She has earned that respect by leading Germany through a financial crisis and adopting tough austerity measures. She is a great asset for the Fijian presidency in trying to convince leaders like US President Donald Trump to honour the Paris Agreement.


Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte

While many leaders are wary of Mr Duterte because of his leadership style, Mr Bainimarama  has had no problems discussing issues with him. Mr Duterte has been both admired and reviled internationally. He and Mr Bainimarama happily took a selfie together. Mr Duterte is not a man to be underestimated. Nor is Mr Bainimarama as his international stature grows.


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