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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

Prime Minister's address at Opening of Heads of Missions Consultations

PM_editedCommodore J.V. Bainimarama, CF(Mil), OSt.J, MSD, jssc, psc

Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics, Public Service, Peoples Charter for Change and Progress, Information, i-Taukei Affairs, Provincial Development, Sugar Industry, Lands and Mineral Resources


ADDRESS AT THE OPENING OF THE HEADS OF MISSIONS CONSULTATIONS

Holiday Inn Wed. 15th Feb, 2012SUVA 0900 Hours

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Cabinet Ministers;

Ambassadors and Fiji’s Heads of Missions;

Excellencies;

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula Vinaka to you all.  

At the outset, I wish to welcome all our Heads of Missions to Fiji’s shores and extend on behalf of Government my gratitude for your tireless efforts and commitment in advancing Fiji’s foreign policy abroad. Since 2006, my Government has taken foreign policy in new and bold directions, and as Ambassadors, you play critical roles in representing the interests and aspirations of our nation around the world.  

As Fiji continues to foster positive engagement and develop bilateral relationships, we must uphold the fundamentals of our key foreign policy interests. While maintaining our territorial integrity, we will rely on the transparency achieved through open dialogue to pursue progressive and effective partnerships.

As declared in Fiji's guiding document, the People's Charter for Change, Peace and Progress, we are tasked with enhancing the nation’s international relations, both bilaterally and multi-laterally.

To date, Fiji has established diplomatic relations with 126 countries and is on the path to formalizing diplomatic relations with all Member States of the United Nations.  Last year, it was an honour for me to open our three new Missions in Indonesia, South Africa and Brazil. This served as recognition of the importance of these emerging economies to the global community and the need to forge strategic ties with them.  Similarly, this year, I look forward to opening our two new Missions in South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.

Fiji’s active participation in various regional organizations exemplifies our dedication to effective partnership and engagement. In addition to global partnerships, we support growth among our Pacific neighbours through membership in the Non-Aligned Movement, our chairmanship of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, and more. With new ties, it is critical that current and future ventures complement Government's "Look North Policy" and intent to engage non-traditional partners. 

I believe an inclusive outlook is essential to national development and full participation in the exercise of our sovereign rights. 

Excellencies, in accordance with our commitment under the aegis of the Strategic Framework for Change, public consultations for the formation of a new constitution will commence this month. In preparation for this process, the Public Emergency Regulation was lifted on the 7th of January this year.  This is a testimony to Government’s resolve for political stability and progress, and our firm commitment to just governance, open dialogue, and truly democratic elections in 2014. 

At the national level, all relevant stakeholders will be engaged in the dialogue. This crucial democratic process will provide the platform for submission of a new homegrown Constitution that truly acknowledges Fijian values and aspirations. 

As leaders, I cannot overemphasize the need for us to provide the leadership qualities that guarantee the highest level of confidence in the Government system.  We must demonstrate our genuine commitment to advance the country toward a truly sustainable democracy in 2014. 

Fiji’s foreign policy directions and priorities in the coming years must pursue a course similar to that charted in 2006, but with a higher level of achievement. In the face of skepticism and critics, Government has remained steadfast in its efforts to build a better, peaceful and prosperous Fiji. We will be unwavering in pursuit of our foreign policy agenda, while assisting our Pacific Island neighbours and promoting growth of the whole region.

The recent visit of His Excellency Mr Sergei Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, demonstrates Fiji’s important role in the international community as a hub in the Asia-Pacific region. Isolated by some of our neighbours for years, Fiji continues to find camaraderie among nations that understand our economic, social, and political goals. 

As we continue this engagement worldwide, great attention will be directed to you – Ambassadors and Heads of Missions in the Fiji Diplomatic Service – to lead this process for us. The performance of all diplomatic missions will be under greater scrutiny as we ensure benchmarking strategies and performance management are streamlined. 

With continued expansion, we must also enrich Fiji’s investment climate and rejuvenate private sector participation. In your deliberations this week, I encourage all of you to create innovative strategies that will enhance our engagement with the international community in a manner that is most effective and efficient.  

I believe that you will be able to collectively break new grounds in your discussions this week, and I look forward to the successful outcome of your consultations. 

I wish you all the best during these three days. 

Vinaka vakalevu and thank you.