Three Messages from Port Vila, and McCully Blames Media
KEY MOUTH AND NO EARS. As the saying goes, "God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we may listen twice as much as we speak." Heedless of this heavenly advice, what does our PM say in response to comment that Australians and New Zealanders are not Pacific Islanders?
TVNZ reported that he 'blasted as a "ridiculous assertion" comments by Fiji's Commodore Frank Bainimarama that Australia and New Zealand should not be in the Pacific Islands Forum because they were "not Pacific Islanders".' And then, with a touch of immodesty that would not have been missed by Pacific leaders, he went on to say: "We've always played a leadership (sic!) role in the Pacific, we're going to continue to do that."
A little later, Kiribati President Anote Tong, who seemed to be agreeing with Bainimarama, said: "There's a feeling there should be more Pacific in the Pacific," adding that he is not alone in thinking more progress will be made with Fiji if New Zealand and Australia are not part of it.
"I think they (Australia and New Zealand) have their own style of doing things. I suspect it's not working very well at the moment. When you are having a head-on collision with somebody you are not the right person to be talking with that person," he said. Tong thought there needed to be a more traditional approach towards Fiji. "Quite frankly I believe that there is more likelihood of exchange among the Pacific countries themselves," he said.
I hope Key was listening, really listening.
FIJI SENT HOME. The Pacific African, Caribbean, Pacific group meeting usually precedes the annual Forum meeting but Fiji, which is a member of the ACP, was absent from this year's meeting in Vila. Cabinet Minister Joketani Cokanasiga and Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Solo Mara were advised not to attend the meeting an they returned home without attending.
The ACP is a major international body based in Brussels, Belgium, and has an aid, trade and development agreement with the European Union.
PACNEWS reports that Samoa was very vocal against Fiji’s attendance, and Vanuatu Prime Minister and new chair of the Pacific ACP Edward Natapei, "brushed aside" claims that the Fiji delegation had been invited to the meeting by the host government.
However, Vanuatu’s deputy prime minister brought up the issue of Fiji’s absence, recognising that Fiji is an important member of the Pacific ACP and needed to be present. This was supported by Kiribati, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, said the government official.The official added that Fiji’s participation should have been resolved by the Pacific ACP instead of involving Australia and New Zealand at the Forum Retreat.
WEST PAPUA CALLS FOR ACTION FROM THE FORUM. "It is the sincere hope of the West Papuan people, who continue to suffer under Indonesian rule, that the Forum will not keep ignoring the genocide and will actively address the truly vulnerable communities in West Papua." These were the words of West Papuan Church and NGO observers at the Forum.They spoke of "slow genocide, "more than 100,000 people deaths during 40 years of Indonesian rule, and asked why Indonesia has brought at least 15 “official” members to the Forum dialogue and whether pressure was being exerted to keep West Papua off the Forum agenda. Last month tens of thousands of Papuans demonstrated throughout West Papua calling for a referendum on independence and rejecting Indonesia’s autonomy policy.
And Australia and New Zealand are concerned about Fiji!
McCully blames media for talks failure ... but all the media did was quote him
New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully made some strong moves into continuing dialogue with Fiji when he blamed the New Zealand media for the failure in the Forum Ministerial Contact Group to re-engage with Fiji.
Mr McCully said Fiji had invited the group but withdrew the invitation following the NZ media's coverage of the events. "Mr Bainimaramas made some strong statements when he saw what was in the NZ media coverage of the MCG press conference.
"I am often moved to hostile thoughts when I see NZ media coverage as well," Mr McCully said.
"We will have the opportunity to still come to Fiji and engage in meaningful dialogue."
Mr McCully said he was hopeful he would visit Fiji again. He said he had been briefed by his Fiji counterpart, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and believed that they had a part to play in finding a way forward.
The minister could not reveal the contents of the Forum Ministerial Contact Group but said there was no basis for recommending to leaders any further action to Fiji's current suspension from the forum.