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   Government of the Republic of Fiji

  Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service

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Media Release

Minister Kubuabola's opening address at 2012 Heads of Missions Consultations

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RATU INOKE KUBUABOLA'S OPENING ADDRESS 

2012 HEADS OF MISSIONS CONSULTATIONS

Your Excellencies

Permanent Secretaries

Ladies  & Gentlemen

KUBUABOLA

It gives me great pleasure to again welcome you our distinguished Heads of Missions to the three-day Consultations. The discussions during these meetings are expected to reinforce our Foreign Policy objectives, and create operating efficiencies between the Missions and the Ministry. More importantly, the Consultations have come at a time when our country is recovering from recent floods, and your support is an indication of solidarity and testament of care for all Fijians. 

You are Fiji’s voice in the global community, echoing Government’s efforts to expand its foreign policy in new and bold directions, while securing the future of the country.

Forty years after obtaining independence, Fiji is still trying to construct a governing structure that will respond positively to the development needs and political aspirations of all Fijians. Faced with negative forces and racial conflicts, Fiji has been forced to embark on its own path to find a sustainable form of democracy that is pro-development and people-focused. 

During this process, Government has maintained attention to the fundamentals of Fiji’s key foreign policy interests – most importantly, defending its sovereignty while advancing its interests.

Government has developed and implemented the People’s Charter for Change, Peace & Progress – a home-grown model that positions Fiji as a modern nation on the path to a Parliamentary Democracy. This was done in full adherence to the Presidential mandate to ensure that true democratic, non-communal, equal suffrage-based elections are held by September 2014.

The Foreign Ministry, as it leads implementation of Pillar 11 of the Peoples Charter, plays an important role in shaping Fiji’s global image. In recent years, its role has evolved beyond the traditional responsibilities of promoting Fiji’s interests in the international arena and fulfilling our obligations to Conventions. 

Through its “Look North Policy”, the Ministry is committed to strengthening relations with old friends and establishing new relations with countries that recognize and understand Fiji’s reform agenda. To date, Fiji has established diplomatic relations with 119 countries and continues to open new resident diplomatic missions. 

And, our development priorities are directed to enhance the well being, and improve the living standards of our people.

Engaging fully in world politics calls for proactive participation in international forums and Government efforts have resulted in Fiji joining renowned international organizations such as the Non-Aligned Movement and seeking observer status in ASEAN to strengthen engagement with our development partners in Asia.

Fiji continues to champion the rights and interests of the Pacific Small Island Developing States [PSIDS] by organizing regional meetings, chairing economic interest groups, and hosting inaugural foreign minister visits. Last month’s visit of the Russian Federation’s Foreign Minister has now become an annual meeting for Russian and PSIDS Foreign Ministers on issues of common interest to all parties.

At the corporate level, the relocation of the Economics and Trade Division in September 2011 did not significantly affect the overall responsibility of the Ministry. Trade and investment promotions continue to be a significant deliverable of the Missions, while trade related visits and meetings still require participation of the Ministry. In fact, inclusion of the Climate Change Unit in November 2011 provided the Ministry added responsibility to pursue Climate Change policies, which are crucial for our small island groups.

As the Ministry continues to expand, a significant portion of the new responsibilities have been identified for the Missions. While policy decisions remain at the Ministry level, the implementation is largely carried out by the Missions. As you know, over the last two years, effective team work has led the Ministry to receive the best performance rating of the entire Fijian Public Service, as determined by the SFCCO Monitoring Office. 

As we look to the years ahead, we will be challenged as we prepare for the General Election in 2014. Your cooperation and assistance are crucially needed as we approach this milestone.

The next few days of Consultations will assist in identifying new strategies to improve performance, strengthen cooperation, and encourage teamwork amongst the Missions, Ministries, and relevant Agencies. 

These discussions should also provide the opportunity to identify benchmarks to assess the business functions of the Missions and their contribution to Fiji’s economic development.

I thank each of you for attending this Consultation and wish for a three days of enriching and fruitful dialogue.

Vinaka Vakalevu.