Posts tagged MSG

PM Bainimarama’s Speech at the Opening of Heads of Mission Consultations

Bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

This year’s annual examination of Fiji’s diplomatic strategies may be the most important since we gained independence. We are in the midst of an unprecedented expansion of our international relations.

It is absolutely essential to ensure that we are meeting our international commitments, delivering tangible results to the Fijian people, and best representing Fiji’s interests amongst the community of nations.

After gaining Independence in 1970, Fiji became the 127th member of the United Nations. Our diplomatic presence overseas was the ‘bare minimum’.

Just five years ago, Fiji still only had eleven Missions abroad. Today, there are 17. This number will continue to grow as we strengthen and develop new relationships with non-traditional partners and friends.

The significant expansion of Fijian diplomacy in the past five years stands testament to our growing influence and diverse interests in a dynamic and evolving global landscape.

Fiji is becoming a cohesive, unified force that is truly independent. We are taking charge of our own destiny and carving out our own niche in the world. We don’t see ourselves as beholden to anyone.

We will act in our own interests, not the interests of those who attempt to impose their will on us. The days of us being dictated to by outsiders are over.

In 2013, I can proudly say that Fiji has demonstrated its leadership credentials – in our region and to the world. We have shown that the strength of our leadership is in our ability to form solidarity and unity amongst fellow nations. As a result, our international standing has never been higher.

Fiji has assumed the chairmanship of the largest negotiating bloc at the United Nations, the G77 plus China, and Fiji has actively advanced the causes of the developing world.

Fiji has been elected the chair of the International Sugar Council, the peak body of the International Sugar Organisation, which consists of 86 countries representing 97 per cent of the world’s sugar production.

And Fiji has emerged as one of the world’s most dynamic countries in delivering ICT services and infrastructure to our people, presenting our reforms in a number of international conferences, including a High Level Forum in Hong Kong last week.

Within the region, we are restructuring the landscape of the Pacific, together with our neighbours, to better suit the needs, demands and aspirations of our peoples.

We recently handed over the chairmanship of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, having—during our leadership— achieved significant strides toward achieving a bold vision: a common economic union and single market. This includes convening the first-ever meeting of MSG Trade Ministers in May this year.

Fiji has also assumed a leadership role within the Pacific ACP –  after our full reinstatement last year – and we are working with our fellow Pacific nations to negotiate a favourable and appropriate Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union. Last December, Fiji chaired the EU-ACP Trade Negotiations in Geneva, and in May we hosted a meeting of PACP Trade Ministers.

But perhaps the most exciting honour for Fiji will come at the beginning of August when we host the very first meeting of the Pacific Islands Development Forum. Twenty-three Pacific countries will participate, as well as 10 foreign countries with observer status.

The Forum marks a significant new beginning in the Pacific. It is the first of its kind. It will bring together not only Leaders of Government, but also representatives from civil society and the business sector. It will allow participants to discuss and debate Pacific issues, values and interests without the influence and interference by our larger, traditional partners.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

These exciting developments in Fiji’s international position are matched by developments underway at home: economic, social, environmental and political.

This is a story we need to be telling the world. We are finalising a new Constitution that specifically includes – for the first time – socio-economic rights for all Fijians.

This includes the right to economic participation, the right to work and the right to a just minimum wage, as well as to such things as transportation and adequate food and water.

Our new Constitution will introduce long overdue democratic principles– for the first time – an electoral system that removes the legal enforcement of ethnic voting, enshrines one person, one vote, one value and helps voters focus on the merits of the policies the respective political parties are offering.

It will introduce an entirely new regime of accountability and transparency.

We’ve also embarked on a massive drive of voter registration, using biometric technology that will help us eliminate vote fraud and identity theft.  So far, 530,000 Fijians – representing more than 80% of eligible voters – have registered to vote.  And we’re not done; we plan to keep registering voters until the election writs are issued. This will also mean that we will be registering Fijians living offshore and we will require assistance from your Missions.

So now, I would like to pose a question to every one of you: how are your Missions contributing to the greater movement of reform, development and progress in Fiji now?

What are the tangible results you are delivering to the Fijian people?

Is there more you could be doing?

Are there new markets to be developed? Opportunities for new imports, or new exports?

Are you doing enough to seek out investment that will grow our economy?

What are ways to better advance our nation’s interests abroad?

Answering questions like these is what this week’s consultations are all about. More importantly, answering these questions is our responsibility to the Fijian people.

You are on the front line in your posts overseas. In addition to your traditional diplomatic roles, it is up to each of you to develop new markets for Fijian products, to attract new investment to our shores, and to sell “Brand Fiji” to the world.

You must constantly be focused on creating opportunities for Fiji and Fijians.

We now have Fiji Airways, Film Fiji, Tourism Fiji and Investment Fiji. We are carving out our own space in highly competitive international markets.

We are marketing high-quality, niche products that capitalise on our unique and pristine environment and people.

It is critical that you establish direct links with the respective agencies.

Last night you met with some of the Fijian businesses interests. You must be able to directly and efficiently co-ordinate with Fijian businesses and the relevant approval agencies. Let’s cut down on the red tape, unclog the investment pipeline and remove unnecessary bureaucracy.

We must focus on creating new opportunities for Fiji and all Fijians. Whether it is furthering our national interests at international forums or through international law and committees; accessing education and training opportunities for our people; attracting quality foreign investment; promoting trade; or creating trading and investment opportunities for Fijian products and companies – we cannot relent on our objectives.

My Government will ensure that you are empowered, ably supported, and provided with the right tools and tradecraft to lead the implementation of Fiji’s policies.

Over the next few days, I urge you to use this forum to consolidate your strengths, and identify the gaps in your respective Missions and here in the capital.

Ambassadors and High Commissioners, with those words, I now officially declare the 2013 Heads of Missions Consultations open.

Vinaka Vakalevu. Thank you.

 

FIJI COMMITS A FURTHER 380 TROOPS TO GOLAN HEIGHTS

The Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, has announced that a further 380 Fijian troops are being sent to join the United Nations peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights.

The contingent will leave Fiji at the end of the month to link up with the 183 Fijians who have already been deployed in the troubled zone that separates Israel and Syria.

The Prime Minister made the announcement at an official dinner in Honiara at the end of the first day of his current visit to Solomon Islands.

He also revealed that Russia – a key player in the Middle East  – has offered to assist Fiji with the UN deployment.

He said that during his recent visit to Moscow, both the Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev and his Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, had endorsed Fiji’s participation and offered Russia’s help.

The Prime Minister said Fiji was also grateful for the support of its South Pacific neighbours for the deployment and especially its partners in the Melanesian Spearhead group.

He said his two-year tenure as Chair of the MSG – which concluded last month – had been an exciting time and the organisation had been able to achieve a great deal.

The dinner in Honiara was attended by more than 100 people, including the Governor-General and Prime Minister of the Solomons, Government ministers from both countries, diplomats and members of the Solomons and Fijian business communities.

The Prime Minister thanked Solomon Islands for honouring Fiji by inviting him to be Chief Guest at the celebrations tomorrow to commemorate the 35th anniversary of Solomons Independence.

The PM singled out several people in the audience for special mention, including three Fijian veterans of the Solomons campaign in World War Two -Sergeant Major Eliki Vuniwawa, Lance Corporal Ilimotama Wave and Commando Watisoni Seru.

He also highlighted the presence in the Fijian delegation of two senior Government officials, Pio Tikoduadua and Inia Seruiratu, who had both commanded Fijian peacekeepers under RAMSI – the Regional Assistance Mission To Solomon Islands.

PM Bainimarama’s Speech Commemorating Solomon Islands Independence Day

Halo Oloketa and a very good afternoon to you all.

I also say “bula vinaka” from the Government and people of Fiji. They send their congratulations and warmest regards as we celebrate the 35th anniversary of your Independence.

I bring you special greetings from the “Kai Solomoni” in Fiji, those who left your shores to live among us as Fijians.

Nothing can break the bonds between our two countries. We are all proud Melanesians, part of the brotherhood that also links us with the people of Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and the Kanak people of New Caledonia.

Prime Minister, I am deeply honoured by your invitation to be here today as Chief Guest to commemorate this wonderful occasion. And all Fijians are honoured that you have invited so many of us to come to Honiara, including a large detachment of our Fiji Military Forces and Fiji Police Force, most of whom served here in the Solomons with RAMSI.

Some 200 people have come from Fiji for this event, to join the large number of Fijians already here.

What we are celebrating today is more than just another anniversary. It is a celebration of the way in which Solomon Islands has faced up to its many challenges, survived as a unified nation, and has set its eyes on the future. A nation determined to improve the lives of its citizens and take its rightful place in the region and the world.

We look back at some very difficult times – the tragedy of a nation divided by civil war and the resulting loss of life, the many challenges of restoring peace with the assistance of your neighbours, the renewal of stability and the continuing effort to rebuild your institutions and your economy.

But we also look forward to better times, as Solomon Islands joins hands with its Melanesian neighbours to forge ahead – to give renewed hope to all our people that the dreams we all shared at Independence are finally realised.

The lesson for us all is that only through unity and a common sense of purpose can we fulfill that promise. It means putting hatred and prejudice aside, putting sectional and ethic interests aside, assisting the weak and the marginalised, building a sense of national purpose and working together as One Nation.

The Solomons is not alone. In Fiji, we have also struggled with the same challenges – individuals putting themselves and their narrow interests before the national interest, selfishness, corruption, prejudice, discrimination.

We have now removed outside influences so we can decide, for ourselves, our future – a future that will benefit our children and grandchildren.

It has taken us many years to smash the barriers between us, to think of ourselves not as members of individual ethnicities or communal groups but as Fijians, with common aspirations and a common future.

We are now building a new and better Fiji in which everyone is equal and everyone has the same chance. And next year, we will have the first genuine democratic parliamentary election in our nation’s history of equal votes of equal value.

Equally, we are now working with our Melanesian partners – including Solomon Islands – to build a new and better region in the South West Pacific, a stronger region with more economic clout and a louder voice in global affairs.

Both our countries treasure our membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group. Because we know that the principle of strength through unity doesn’t just apply in our individual countries. United, the people of Melanesia can also be a bigger force in the region and the world at large.

We have a dream – a bold vision that we believe is achievable. We’ve already smashed many of the barriers in the way of the free movement of trade and people between our countries. But we’re now working towards something more ambitious – a common market between the MSG countries for the free flow of goods, services and labour.

We also want to secure trade agreements with the rest of the world as a bloc, not as individual countries. And we want the Melanesian viewpoint to be taken much more seriously at the United Nations and in other global forums.

This especially applies to the things that are most dear to us all – the impact of climate change, fishing rights, the protection of our natural resources, the defence of our borders and the preservation of our unique Melanesian cultures and way of life.

Solomon Islands is an integral part of this plan, which is designed to benefit every Melanesian. And I want to pay tribute today to Solomon leaders, past and present, not only for their leadership of their own country but their contribution to our common regional cause.

I especially value the friendship and counsel of the current Prime Minister, who I thank today for his vision and leadership.

For Fiji’s part, we have a strong record of engagement in Solomon Islands.

Fijian troops spilt their blood here resisting the Japanese advance in World War Two.

Fifty Fijian troops died during the Solomons campaign and we remember their sacrifice with gratitude.

Seventy years on, I am especially proud that three Fijian veterans of that campaign came with me on this trip -Sergeant Major Eliki Vuniwawa, Lance Corporal Ilimotama Wave and Commando Watisoni Seru.

Fijian troops have also served in Solomon Islands in recent times in the cause of peace as member of RAMSI – the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon.

And we also have Fijian civilians present at many levels to assist your efforts at nation building.

Be assured that Fiji stands willing and ready to take that assistance to another level with more personnel and resources, if that is the wish of the Government and people of Solomon Islands.

Thank you again for bestowing me with the honour of being here today. Later this afternoon, I will unveil a plaque that reads: “From the Government and people of Fiji to the Government and people of Solomon islands on the 35th anniversary of your independence. In solidarity and friendship”.

That plaque will still be here long after we have all passed into history. But it will be a permanent reminder that Fijians have, and always will, extend the hand of solidarity and friendship to Solomon Islanders.

On this day, above all, may God Bless Solomon Islands and all its people.

I wish you all the very best.

Taggio tumas, Vinaka Vakalevu

PIDF – A Positive Road for the Pacific

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said the launch of the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) will provide the impetus for inclusive and sustainable development architecture which can become a key pillar for the South-South cooperation in the region and beyond.

PIDF was borne out of the collective input of Pacific leaders that attended the Engaging with the Pacific meeting in Fiji last year to bring together governments, businesses and civil society organizations in the Pacific to secure the future of the region through Green Economy.

PM Bainimarama during his recent participation at the 19th Melanesian Spearhead Group Leaders Summit in New Caledonia, had issued an invite to all Pacific government leaders, private sectors, civil society organizations and development partners to this meeting.

“PIDF will champion the vision of a “united, distinctive and sustainable Pacific society” that has spread throughout the Pacific conveyed by a team from Fiji’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” PM Bainimarama said.

PM Bainimarama said work towards hosting of the inaugural PIDF meeting in Nadi in August has already begun.

“The team has visited around the Pacific, meeting public sector, private sector and civil society leaders and we are pleased with their report and are confident that the groundwork has been laid for a successful inaugural meeting of the PIDF ” PM Bainimarama added.

PM Bainimarama highlighted the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, at the Rio+20 Earth Summit issued a declaration, “The Future We Want” which encouraged countries to introduce green economy policies to tackle poverty without adding extra strain to food, water and energy supplies.

The theme of the inaugural PIDF meeting will be “Leadership, innovation and partnership for Green/Blue Pacific economies” and an experienced team of experts in Green Economy from the region and beyond have been approached to address the conference.

“We are excited by the interest that is being generated by this event which is creating its own challenges in terms of space and representation. We are confident however, that the mixture of programmes that is being prepared which includes ten plenary and parallel sessions, and a Green Economy Expo will surpass everyone’s expectations,” PM Bainimarama said.

PM Bainimarama added that through the support of all countries in the region, a new space for dialogue on sustainable development will be created.

“I’m confident that with all our support, we will be able to birth this new space for dialogue on sustainable development and bequeath to our future generations a new way of engagement that is truly participatory and representative,” PM Bainimarama said.

“I am also confident the Pacific Islands Development Forum can surely animate its vision of a ‘united, distinctive, and sustainable Pacific society’.”

The PIDF inaugural meeting is scheduled for August 5-7 in Nadi.

Fijian Prime Minister meets New Caledonia’s President

Fijian Prime Minister Bainimarama addresses 19th MSG Leaders Summit

MSG Creates Opportunities for Melanesia: PM Bainimarama

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) has opened possibilities and created opportunities which were not presented by other regional organisations.

PM Bainimarama made the comments while addressing the plenary session of the 19th MSG Leaders Summit in Noumea, New Caledonia this morning.

PM Bainimarama said the MSG countries have together passed a number of significant milestones in the last two years under Fiji’s leadership.

“For the last two years, the focus was on a number of result oriented programmes and initiatives, and we are able to achieve concrete results,” PM Bainimarama said.

“We should be proud as we come to the close of a very successful chapter of the MSG history.”

PM Bainimarama added that the future of the biggest sub – regional committee in the Pacific looks brighter and has urged other members to work towards the best interests of Melanesia.

“As we now stand at the beginning of a new period, we must share a trust that we have the tool to face each new challenge as it arises,” PM Bainimarama said.

“We are embarking with a clear vision, a respectful understanding of the issues that lie before us, and a strong conviction and desire to forge ever closer political, economic and social ties.’

Fiji PM Updates MSG Leaders on Elections Progress

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has updated Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders on Fiji’s progress towards parliamentary democracy during a retreat as part of the 19th MSG Leaders Summit yesterday.

He said the Fijian people have been given the opportunity for a transparent and open dialogue process for the formulation of a new constitution in readiness for the 2014 national elections.

“The new constitution will amplify the voices and earnest wishes of the Fijian people and also provide a distillation of Fiji’s reform agenda that will lay the foundations for a progressive and sustainable Fiji,” PM Bainimarama said.

He said Fiji is currently at a crucial juncture in its 42 year history as an independent nation.

“We, as a nation, are enduring the most critical phase of our journey towards sustainable democracy,” PM Bainimarama added.

PM Bainimarama highlighted that a number of international and regional organisations including the UN, the Commonwealth, ACP and the Pacific Islands Forum, have recently carried out their own assessment of Fiji’s progress towards the 2014 Elections.

“These visits have taken note of the satisfactory progress Fiji is making and have also spotlighted areas where assistance can be rendered to ensure that the roadmap towards elections is effectively realized,” PM Bainimarama said.

Regarding the registration of political parties, the head of Government said the Political Parties Decree 2013 specified a modern and transparent process for registration and conduct of political parties.

“The Decree has also for the first time in Fiji introduced accountability and transparency with respect to the funding and accounts of political parties,” PM Bainimarama said.

PM Bainimarama – Reciprocal Speech to Customary Welcome, Noumea, New Caledonia

Ni Sa Bula Vinaka.
Bonjour.

First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and your people for the opportunity to be here in your beautiful country and for the excellent arrangements in hosting the 19th MSG Leaders Summit.

May I accord my respects to the Customary Senate, its President Mr Paul Wema, Presidents of the Northern, Southern Provinces and Loyalty Islands and chiefs of the customary areas.

It is a both a privilege and honour for me personally and I speak on behalf of all the delegations here today, that you have allowed us to share in your distinct and special kanaky cultural heritage by according us this customary welcome.

This indicates to me that our rich Melanesian cultures and tradition has been sustained through generations and provides the cohesiveness that holds our peoples together.

You will note that the MSG has developed initiatives under the Treaty for the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Culture to put in place measures that will protect and conserve our cultures and traditions; wether it be expressions through folklore, song and dance, knowledge, art, flora and fauna.

The onus is on us to ensure its sustainability and that future generations will be able to proclaim that they still have a distinct culture and traditions. The holding of Melanesian Arts Festivals and national initiatives to capture cultural information and tradition knowledge is acknowledged and is encouraged. We now have the technology to do this and must fully utilise this. May I emphasise here that Traditional Knowledge is intellectual property that one cannot learn at an institution of learning. My advice is therefore that elders impart this knowledge to your peoples and younger people to hear and keep it deep in your hearts.

On that note, I once again on behalf of the Leaders and MSG delegations express my deep appreciation for your kind gesture in according us your customary welcome and allowing us to be a part of you today.

May God Bless us All.

Vinaka Vakalevu
Merci Beaucorp

PM Bainimarama Urges MSG Leaders to be Proud of Achievements

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has urged MSG leaders gathered at the 19th MSG Leaders Summit to be proud of their achievements as a group in its short and impressive 25 year history.

Last night in Noumea as Prime Minister Bainimarama paid tribute to the accomplishments of the regional group, he also officially handed over chairmanship of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to the Front de Liberation Nationale Kanake et Socialiste (FLNKS).

“For a quarter-century, the MSG has provided an opportune forum for our nations to forge closer political, economic and social ties, to search for areas of common interest, and to find ways to mutually improve the lives of our peoples,” he said.

PM Bainimarama attributed the accomplishment of significant achievements to the strong support from all member nations.

“We are turning over the chairmanship of an organization that has grown stronger, that has carved out a firmer regional and international presence, and that has a clearer vision and road map for the future,” he added.

He highlighted that trade between MSG member nations was progressing well and there was re-affirmed commitment to ensuring the free movement of goods, services, labour and capital.

PM Bainimarama said advancements on a number of other fronts have been achieved in the areas of customs cooperation, biosecurity, fisheries and cultural preservation among MSG countries.

The head of government reaffirmed his confidence in handing over the chairmanship of the MSG to its new chair.

“I am confident that we will be in very good hands as the MSG chairmanship passes to Front de Liberation Nationale Kanake et Socialiste (FLNKS) of Kanaky or New Caledonia,” PM Bainimarama said.

PM Bainimarama also extended his gratitude to the regional and international partners of MSG for their support and generosity during his chairmanship.

He also extended his gratitude to the regional and international partners of the MSG for their support and generosity during two year leadership of the group.