#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Former diplomat urges NZ to keep calm

Monday, January 25, 2010

Former diplomat urges NZ to keep calm

Former New Zealand diplomat Terence O'Brien says New Zealand should not overreact to an inappropriate proposed Fijian appointment to its high commission in Wellington.
The NZ Government has not been commenting on reports that Fiji wants to send a ranking officer to serve at its high commission in Wellington.

Late last year New Zealand and Fiji agreed to improve diplomatic relations after Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully talked to his Fijian counterpart, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, in Nadi about appointments in Suva and Wellington of additional counsellors.
They also agreed, in principle, to appoint deputy heads of mission in both capitals, although that will take longer.

The proposed appointment of Permanent Secretary for Information and Military spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Neumi Leweni as a counsellor at the high commission is seen as a slap in the face for New Zealand.

Terence O'Brien said New Zealand should not get into a public and destructive spat with Fiji over the proposed appointment.

"I think the New Zealand Government has constructively tried to reopen diplomatic contact with Fiji. This on the face of it (if true) is certainly pretty provocative," Mr O'Brien told Radio New Zealand.

"The problem stems from the context in which all these problems have arisen with Fiji - over our deep objection to the military coup and to the way the administration is developing in that country. You have to see it in that context and New Zealand needs to make its position firmly clear."

Mr O'Brien said New Zealand had tried to be constructive and urged a calm approach.

"I think New Zealand should try to keep its powder dry, no overreaction and quietly if necessary inform the Fijians the appointee is not acceptable to us.

"It has to be done quietly. These sorts of matters are handled better in that way, that of course does not mean the Fijians themselves might not react, that Commodore Bainimarama might not react publicly. But New Zealand should continue as far as it can to adopt the quiet approach."

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