Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fiji: Fiji Says Despite Obama's Pacific Doctrine, Australia Spurns Fiji's Progress

SOURCE Republic of Fiji

Pursuant to Fiji's repeal of its Public Emergency Regulations and restrictions on media, regional governments such as Australia continue to snub Fiji's progress--as affirmed by policy experts in the Australian, one of Australia's most prominent media outlets.

"U.S. President Barack Obama has made clear there's a long game in our region: in Australia, he argued that the Asian century had to be the Asia-Pacific century. Fiji is a vital element in this aspect of restructuring of regional affairs, but Australia continues to play the short game without effect," say authors Richard Herr and Anthony Bergin from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute--an Australian government-funded think tank.

The experts describe how "...the [Australian] government has apparently spurned the opportunity to use Fiji's move to rescind emergency regulations as a chance to reopen dialogue.... Canberra's railing against perceived defects of Fiji's electoral roadmap has produced no positive effects. Quite the reverse; the strategy has severely diminished our relationship with Fiji."

Fijian Foreign Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, has expressed his disappointment over this and Australia's continuing negativity towards Fiji. However, Fiji remains appreciative of the Australian government's extension of the South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement, helping to sustain Fiji's garment industry.

Republic of Fiji's government has taken numerous steps in recent years to strengthen and diversify its economy to be less dependent on Australia, which has historically heavily influenced Fijian politics and the livelihoods of Fijians.

"[Fijian] Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama's recent decision to lift the Public Emergency Regulations was not bowing to external pressure: the move was aimed at facilitating constitutional consultations announced more than two years ago," Herr and Bergin write. "While not done to curry international favor, Fiji hoped it would be taken as a clear indication Suva was meeting its own milestones for a return to democratic elections in September 2014."

Fiji meanwhile continues to diversify its relations, including growing trade with China, Japan, Korea, and the United States, among other nations. Fiji will welcome a trade delegation from India at the end of January and a first-ever visit from the Russian Foreign Minister in February.