Bainimarama Interviews, Whaleoil on NZ Policies, Aussie Boomerang, Bainimarama's Welcoming Speech at Natadola

STOP PRESS.  NZ REACTION TO NATADOLA MEETING.  PM John Key says that today's  unanimous support by Pacific leaders for Fiji's  Roadmap to Democracy changes nothing. A change in NZ policy could only come after the meeting of the PI Forum in Vanuatu next month. It is to be hoped there will be a change then to more realistic and helpful policies, even if it does mean losing face. But I'm not putting any money on it. Key could have attended the Natadola meeting. He has been invited to visit Fiji to see for himself but fouled the first offer and rejected the second.   "There are none so blind who will not see."

Meanwhile, ten Pacific nations (one President, three Prime Ministers, two Ministers, and four Ambassadors) will continue their deliberations at Natadola tomorrow Friday. The only PI Forum members absent were Australia, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, and Cook Islands that sent an apology. What had NZ to lose by sending its Acting Head of Mission?


BUT AT LEAST ONE KIWI IN THE KNOW DISAGREES WITH THE PM.  See Whaleoil's comments on how NZ is missing out in the Pacific because of its inflexible policyt towards Fiji. Click here.


WATCH GRAHAM DAVIS's VIDEO  INTERVIEW WITH BAINIMARAMA.  Click here to listen to Fiji-born Australian Graham Davis's  interview with Bainimarama, released today.  There are six separate clippings from the interview covering topics such as Fiji's international relations, democracy, the media decree and the economy.

BAINIMARAMA SAYS AUSTRALIAN  EFFORTS BACKFIRED.  Fijian  military ruler Frank Bainimarama says Australia has been embarrassed in the eyes of other Pacific nations over its failure to derail a rival meeting to the Pacific Islands Forum, which gets under way in Fiji today.


In an exclusive interview with The Australian, Commodore Bainimarama said his "Engagement with the Pacific" summit was a meeting of the Melanesian Spearhead Group plus other island nations -- the summit he originally sought, on which "we'd spent a lot of money" ($170,000) -- in all but name.

Australia's diplomatic effort to prevent it had backfired, he said, and more Pacific nations were gathering under his chairmanship to express solidarity with Fiji. "We're not going to have an MSG leaders meeting per se, but we're still going to have the meeting as planned from the beginning," he said.
While acknowledging a "warm inner glow", Commodore Bainimarama said he didn't want to crow -- and Australia was still welcome to join the gathering.  -- The Australian.

Bainimarama's Welcoming Speach at Natadola
 “Engaging with the Pacific" 

Bula Vinaka and a Good Morning

It gives me much pleasure to welcome you all, in particular our leaders and guests from overseas, to the official opening of this historic meeting themed ‘Engaging with the Pacific’.

This gathering stems from the required biennial meeting under the Melanesian Spearhead Group agreement. It would also be proper to observe that the extension of the meeting to the other Pacific island countries is precipitated by Fiji’s absence from the Pacific islands Forum.

I do not wish to however talk about or engage in condemnation and/or recriminations. My focus and indeed all our focus should be on the future. After all to dwell on the past and negativity is of no benefit. It will cloud our ability to have foresight, to have a vision.

We, in particular the Pacific Small Island Developing States or PSIDS, need to have a vision to improve our status as countries and provide tangible benefits and improvements in the lives of all our peoples.

It is armed with this philosophy that my government is making a paradigm shift in Fiji to modernize, liberalize and position ourselves in this millennium.

The vision to modernize, break the shackles of the past and challenges the status quo will always make some around us uncomfortable. There will be disquiet, even sense of foreboding by some. However, we as leaders cannot be deterred from the vision. We must not give in to political or economic expediency for the benefit of only the few. We must be determined, have fortitude and be resolute in improving the lives of our people.

The Strategic Framework for Change which I launched on 1 July of 2009 sets out the path of legal, constitutional, economic and social change for a fair, just and modern Fiji - not just for tomorrow or the next year but for the years to come.

The Peoples Charter for Change which was approved by the National Council for Building a Better Fiji, supported by 64% of the Fijian people, and endorsed by the our former President Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu Uluivuda underpins the guiding principles of 1 July Strategic Framework for Change.

Mr. President, Prime Ministers, Ministers, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the Fijian government has in particular over the past year embarked on major reforms to empower our citizens. These reforms include modernizing laws that we inherited from our colonial past and those that are now inapplicable or incompatible with  the changing demographics, philosophical outlook and new technology; opening up our economy by removal of exclusivities, increasing competition and creating a level playing field; ratifying the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and setting up the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption to assist in our pursuit to eradicate systemic corruption; making available land for productive use for the benefit of landowners, farmers and investors; facilitating reforms in the public service including the divestment of government shares in public enterprises for increased private sector participation; providing targeted assistance to those on or below the poverty line, those on the margins. All these reforms and changes are based on the underlying legal position and moral belief in a common and equal citizenry.

Today we the PSIDS face a number of challenges that are peculiar to us. We are at the cold face of climate change. Some of us face almost complete annihilation or at best change in our way of life and a reconfiguration of our economic base and livelihood.

The recent rise in oil prices and rise in commodities illustrate that our dependency on fossil fuels not only skewers our economic commitments but demands that we concentrate on renewable energy alternatives and reach acceptable levels of food self-sufficiency.

The global financial crisis clearly demonstrates and brings home the point that the PSIDS are most vulnerable to the machinations of the bigger economies. It also demonstrates that we as individual countries do not in most instance have the economies of scale. Our level of influence as individual countries and some would argue even as a grouping is at times extremely limited.

These are the realities, the pertinent issues that need to be addressed. If addressed properly, with wisdom and collaboration it will bring actual and tangible benefits to our people. If addressed it will bring long term stability to the region. If addressed it will demonstrate good, just and fair leadership. If addressed it will give actual and true democracy.

Fiji in this regard has taken a number of measures. We have recently ratified the convention under IRENA or the International Renewable Energy Agency. We have taken a number of steps in our fiscal and monetary regime while collaborating and seeking advice and guidance from international agencies to position our state finances for the future. Our missions in New York and elsewhere have been and will continue to take strong and long term view on climate change by working with countries that have a global view. We are also cognizant of the need to tackle the environment or pollution.

Of course some matters and challenges cannot be resolved by simply relying on the traditional spheres of influence which we belong to or have belonged to, many a time dictated to by our colonial past. Many a time dictated to by certain metropolitan powers.

Fiji has recently decided to join the Non-aligned Movement or NAM. NAM we believe will inter alia give us the ability to independently state our position. It will also give us access to hitherto withheld information and engender collaboration with countries that we traditionally have not had access to.

The recent invitation to Abu Dhabi by the Arab League and the interest from that region to collaborate with the PSIDS in political issues and equally important in the areas of investment and trade partnerships demonstrate the value in seeking new relationships without fore going existing ones.

Mr. President, Prime Ministers, Ministers, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the issues I have just highlighted provide input for our discussions over the next few days. It also means that our focus must be based on collaboration, co-operation and a vision. Our discussions must be candid and frank. We need to discuss our challenges with the view to resolution and positivity. It must be based on a vision for the betterment of all our peoples.

It is in this sense that I also offer assistance and co-operation between Fiji and the PSIDS on a bi-lateral basis and at a regional level. There are many matters in which we can provide assistance and at the same time learn from your experiences. These include areas of fishing, education, people and labour movement, commerce and trade, transportation, regional hubing, Regional tourism, regional ship repairing and manufacturing and retailing. The mini-trade show that has been put up by various entities at this forum will give you an idea of the existing opportunities.

Mr. President, Prime Ministers, Ministers, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I wish you well in our deliberations over the next two days and I also invite you to enjoy Fiji and of course the celebrated Fijian hospitality.

Vinaka vakalevu

Thank you.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Unanimous support for what exactly....

Fijilive is reporting "Unanimous support for Fiji"

What are they supporting ? I suspect Frank thinks they support his coup and his military and his way or the highway attitude.

I think what they actually support is getting to a better place at some time in the future which will mean no more Frank, no more military coup and a return to democracy (perhaps even a better form of it).

To-date Frank is no different to the previous coup leaders including the one in jail. Only time will tell if he can turn the throttling impact this coup has had on the economy and many peoples lives into something positive.

He has perhaps made a little progress in the last few months but really has very little to show for 3.5 years of total power. With no constraints on him he should be able to push through reforms at 4 to 5 times the speed of any other government.

Come on Mr PM - step up and get moving. Lose you almighty EGO. Stop your suppression and attacks on those who may not agree with you.

Mr PM you claim to want a race free Fiji which invlolves accepting others differences. You will have to accpet different opinions as well....soon please.
Anonymous said…
Looking forward to the outcomes....

I wonder if there will be an official commuication (signed by all the countries) following this meeting.

If Frank can get this he will have a true victory. If it's not signed then this meeting is just another Pacific talk fest.

Great golf course at the resort though and when Frank and team where there for the opening of the resort he pulled a "All nighter" on the beach with the boys and then went straight to breakfast.
Anonymous said…
Go Sharon

PM's at least getting better with the speaches and media. Ratu and Sharon are much better players than he has had around him for a while. He should shed a few military men and get a few more like them on board.
Anonymous said…
Pacific rebellion..


Oh please this is no rebellion. It's just Pacific nations getting together to hear from Fiji's Military PM. Are they all coming out and rejecting or cutting ties with Australia and New Zealand....I don't think so.

PNG signed an agreed only last week in AU wich included wording on helping Fiji return to democracy.

And really why would Australia attent when fiji just chucked out their senior diplomat ?

Ps - PM made comment about samoan PM not PNG PM. Yes the writer knows so much about the Pacific.
Confused whaleoil said…
Whaleoil is so knowledgeable he cannot differentiate between Samoa and PNG? Em i olsem long long?
White Frangipani said…
To "Pacific rebellion" and "Confused whaleoil":
Thanks for pointing this out. Whaleoil has corrected his mistake. All I did was email him via his website and tell him. We all have days like that! I read that Whaleoil's Cameron Slater was born in Fiji. If you read his blog he does seem to know a lot about Fiji compared to other Kiwis. Excuse my lack of knowledge but what does "Em i olsem long long?" mean (I assume it is Pigeon English.)
Anonymous said…
if you going to be so critical of the critics croz, at least spell the name of Supreme Leader right in the headlines! Off to the Gulag for you. Or Palmerston North.

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