#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Fijian Thaw

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fijian Thaw

Despite protestations to the contrary, there seems to have been a precipitous about-face in the attitude of the New Zealand Government towards Fiji.

Late last week during a below-the-radar visit to the Pacific nation, Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully met his counterpart in Frank Bainimarama's military regime, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.

During the encounter both countries agreed to improve diplomatic relations with appointments to Suva and Wellington respectively of additional counsellor positions, and agreements, in principle, to appoint deputy heads of mission in both capitals.

Whether the lodging of deputy heads of mission in each capital, rather than heads of mission, would lessen the likelihood of the series of expulsions initiated at the behest of the military regime and which have dogged diplomatic engagement between both Australia and New Zealand, and Fiji, over the last year or so, remains unclear, for Mr McCully was adamant that the bigger picture of relations between the two countries remained as it had been.

"None of this signals a change to New Zealand's substantive policy with regard to the regime in Fiji, nor does it signal any change in the sanctions regime currently in place," the Foreign Minister said.

"But it does signal a determination to improve the relationship, and in particular to be able to agree and disagree about some things."

Primary among those matters likely to remain disagreeable to Mr Bainimarama, when aired by New Zealand or Australian diplomats, is the illegitimate status of his regime and the sanctionable failure yet to make significant progress towards holding free and fair elections; or to lift anti-democratic measures against the media in the island nation.

And neither, by all indications, is the New Zealand Government about to let bygones be bygones and fly the white flag of capitulation in the Fijian capital.

So what changed? What changed was the prospective visit to the region of the United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

Mr McCully had admitted that the situation in Fiji was likely to be discussed with Mrs Clinton, but denied the proximity of the now postponed visit and the rapprochement with Fiji was anything other than coincidence.
New Zealand and Australia are regarded warmly in Washington for their influence in the Pacific, a sphere of interest and friendship that the US would be loath to let slip.

The fear of seeing a chain of tiny Pacific nations succumb to the expansive charms and pecuniary largesse of another superpower is likely to be pressing in both the Pentagon and the White House.

There is certainly evidence that Fiji has been courted through a persistent and generous aid offensive from Beijing, and it is perhaps this potential alliance - and his awareness of the likely response to it by the US, New Zealand and Australia - that allows Mr Bainimarama to strut and procrastinate in the face of pressure for reform.

In the year following the self-appointed prime minister's 2006 coup, which ousted the legitimate Fijian government, Chinese pledges to the country increased seven-fold from $US23 million in 2006 to $US161 million in 2007.

Much of this has gone towards infrastructure projects and, unlike aid from Western nations, does not appear to date to have been tied to moves back towards democracy.

China's relationship with other "outlaw" regimes, such as Sudan and Myanmar, would suggest that this is unlikely to change.

Mr Bainimarama has cultivated the relationship with the north and while the benefits might appears to tilt heavily in Fiji's favour, there will have been much Western diplomatic "noise" about China's creeping influence in the Pacific as a result of it.

For all its errant ways, Fiji remains an important force in the Pacific, with the potential to influence smaller nations.

It is likely that behind the scenes diplomats have been determinedly canvassing approaches with their political masters on how to loosen the stalemate paralysing the countries' relationship.

In all the circumstances, it would be surprising if the imminent arrival of Mrs Clinton had not persuaded the Minister of Foreign Affairs and his policy specialists to try a little harder at breaching the impasse - Otago Daily Times


mark manning said...

If nothing other than Hilary Clinton's proposed visit to Australia, was the catalyst for a new determination by the New Zealand and Australian Governments to overcome the impasse with Frank Bainimarama's regime, then I don't see much chance of a resolution at all, despite their best of intentions !
Frank Bainimarama has stood steadfast in his approach in so far as engaging the People's Republic of China, at any cost !
Nothing has changed in Fiji that would entice this Rogue Commander to return Fiji back to the people and a Democratically Elected Government.
Sadly, I believe that my own Government is deluding itself if it thinks he has any intentions other than to maintain the status quo.
Frank Bainimarama will see New Zealand and Australia's acquiescence, as confirmation that he is on the right path in taking Fiji North and this move will serve only to strengthen his resolve to do so, but with a much greater vigour than ever before ! Like a Pit-bull, when it gets lockjaw and can't let go, this is Frank Bainimarama's trademark.

Anonymous said...

Who cares - as long as the sanctions against the Fiji military fools remains. The world does not have a problem with the fijian people - the issue is with the anti-christian undemocratic sharia terrorists who are manipulating the military goons!!

Anonymous said...

Hear hear Mark Manning, as always great thoughts. Like this bit, quote, "Like a Pit-bull, when it gets lockjaw and can't let go, this is Frank Bainimarama's trademark."

Stalemate is the name of the game!!

Anyone in Frank Bullshit's shoes, wud certainly take a hint from the scare-monger 'minor heart attacko' suffered by him FB during Christmas!!!

Anonymous said...

Can somebody please give Mark Manning and anon at 3.49 their medication? With idiots like this on our side, we're never going to achieve a return to democracy. It'd mean continuing to feed them and the country is bound to choose dictatorship over that. Oh, the horror of it all!

Keep The Faith said...

A meeting is just that -- a meeting.

The fact of the matter is despite NZ & Fiji being friendly for a whole minute, the psycho that is Frank Bainimarama will NEVER forgive nor forget.

That's why they're proposing that Leweni be made counsellor (God forbid the lack of his IQ for that role but that's another rant) -- they are testing and pushing NZ's boundaries.

Come on Key's show us what you're made off and reject Lewensky's nomination because Frank et al will NEVER play ball with any democratic-loving countries.

We watch and wait in anticipation.