#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Ratuva says quiet diplomacy needed

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Ratuva says quiet diplomacy needed

After New Zealand offered an olive branch to Fiji to ease diplomatic tension between the two countries, Fiji responded in two unexpected ways.

Firstly, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, while welcoming the move, was also quoted by Fiji media as saying that he was "confused" with New Zealand's stance in maintaining travel sanctions.

Secondly, Fiji appointed a military officer, Lieutenant Colonel Neumi Leweni, to fill in the counsellor's position at the Fiji High Commission in Wellington, at a time when there was a ban on visit to New Zealand by Fiji military officers.

This was the latest development in the diplomatic "cold war" between the two countries since the Fiji military coup in 2006 after which New Zealand imposed "smart sanctions," which included prohibition of visits to New Zealand by Fijian military personnel. Fiji expelled three New Zealand high commissioners within three years and New Zealand retaliated in similar manner.

Lieutenant Colonel Leweni's appointment has put New Zealand in a very difficult situation. If it accepts the appointment, it would appear to be undermining its own travel sanction for military officers and would be seen to be giving in to Fiji's political whim. At the same time Fiji would feel triumphant in simultaneously scoring two scoops - restoring diplomatic links with New Zealand and out-manoeuvring the smart sanctions.

Fiji's stance would be seen by some as conspiratorially political and lacking good faith and diplomatic zeal. The New Zealand Government would no doubt be frustrated as it would feel that it is being duped into a difficult corner where it would be forced to choose between two unpalatable options.

If New Zealand refuses Fiji's proposal the initiative for diplomatic restoration between the two countries may collapse prematurely and both countries and even the Pacific region would be losers. This would be unfortunate given the great efforts by the foreign ministers of the two countries who have been meeting to put the restoration process in place.

The details of the agreement and related conditions between the two foreign ministers are not very clear but I suspect that the appointment of a Fijian military officer for diplomatic posting to Wellington was probably not part of it.

Given that both countries are in the process of restoring diplomatic relations, there should be more restraint, sensitivity and innovative diplomacy by both sides. They should use silent diplomacy to arrive at a consensus about their potential appointees. For instance, Fiji shouldn't have rushed into announcing its appointee but rather engaged further in silent diplomacy with New Zealand to find out if it was acceptable.

By announcing the name of a military officer in the first place, Fiji was in danger of derailing the sensitive process in a potentially irreversible way, at least for the foreseeable future.

Winning political points by putting New Zealand on the defensive does not help Fiji's case at all. On the contrary, it could prolong the agony of isolation and unnecessary continuing conflict with an important neighbour. On the other hand, if New Zealand responds negatively to Fiji's appointment, the situation could escalate into a new round of political showdowns with both countries blaming each other of responsibility for the failed diplomatic initiative.

Outright rejection of Fiji's proposal may only make matters irretrievably worse and a new approach may be needed at this point in time.

The future of the Fiji-NZ diplomatic relations now rests with New Zealand's response. The response should be innovative and sensitive enough to salvage a diplomatic process which now has the potential to fail.

Another round of diplomacy, this time around, using silent diplomacy should be pursued in earnest to discuss Fiji's proposal. They should arrive at a consensus before any announcement is made.

Premature publicity and manipulation of publicity to achieve psychological upper-hand and political advantage could be counter-productive to diplomatic success.

It should be based on a "win-win" goodwill and reciprocal spirit, not on the "attack and counter-attack" strategy the two countries have been deploying since 2006. They should put all their cards on the table and make themselves transparent to each other as a precondition for continuing dialogue.

The first step should be restoration of full diplomatic relations. The second step should then be discussion of the difficult issues like smart sanctions.

The two issues should not be mixed up. The two governments owe it to the ordinary citizens of the two countries and to good relations and stability in the Pacific region generally -Dr Steven Ratuva

10 comments:

mark manning said...

personally, I fail to see why N.Z. & Aust. should even bother engaging with the Regime. Full stop.

Happy talk said...

Mark, what a dill you are. If Barack Obama says it's important for the US to at least talk to its enemies like North Korea and Iran, doesn't the same logic apply in the South Pacific?

discombobulated said...

Steve mate - have another beer.

Anonymous said...

why do we keep on giving space to this idiot ratuva

Anonymous said...

Ratuva is simply stating the obvious...so he should have another beer.

Bainimarama true to form is acting like a military commander who is out of his depth in foreign diplomacy...so he should also have another beer.

NZ is of course looking closely at the remifications of its decision but keeping its diginity by remaining silent.
The onus however is on Fiji to be more diplomatic rather then the stupid military tatics that it currently employs.

Liu Muri said...

Ratuva is one of the more enlightened Fijian academics who does not merely support anything or any regime based on race. He is the voice of sense, and I hope we do not shoot the messenger.

Anonymous said...

Ratuva is telling it as it is! This fool Frank is playing around with diplomatic relations at the expense of the people of Fiji.

Frank is not serious about restoring relations with Fiji but he wants to make NZ look bad! Period!

I'm not sure why John Key or Kevin Rudd are even trying to open talks with Frank after all that he has done to them.

Anonymous said...

Should be a law preventing countries exporting their idiots?

Old ploy used by dictators & despots thru millennium - 'send them somewhere'.
This case justified - everything he's touched has turned pear shape - SCC - Hook & Chook. Current crude attempt at stirring up racial & religous hatred & bigitory in Cane Fields via FS -'Jalil wants his farm back' has not passed unnoticed.

Anonymous said...

Enlightened academic your maimuri...there are heaps around and Ratuva comes in the no balls category.

Anonymous said...

Happy talk, did you know that Vore's words carries no credibility? He is a liar.
He had talks with Mr Qarase and Mr. Peters of NZ, assuring them that there will be no coup.
He came back and did the very opposite. That is the difference between him and the talks of Obama.
Obama means what he says, but Vore as the St Giles doctor said, " Keeps changing the goal post'.