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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

Foreign Secretary Mataikabara Speaks on Cultural Diplomacy

PS_FTA_215th August 2012: The Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mrs. Saipora Mataikabara, has emphasized the importance of cultural diplomacy in International relations and national development whilst addressing the 2012 Fijian Teachers Association Cultural Festival.

Officiating at the opening of the 2012 Fijian Teachers Association Cultural Festival held at the Civic auditorium on Monday evening 13th August, the Foreign Secretary told participants:

“This festival allows students to recognize the value of belonging to a cultural group and at the same time, it provides a deeper understanding of the cultural dynamics that exist in our own society allowing the general recognition and appreciation of the diversity of cultures.

Moreover, it is during cultural festivals of this nature that we expose our future leaders to a wide array of thought-provoking activities, which are platforms to raise opinions on issues that need the collective action and attention of society and Government. This inclusive process nurtures confidence and maturity in our young people.”

“The theme of this festival closely relates to Cultural Diplomacy. I wish to comment briefly on cultural diplomacy in the context of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation particularly, as it relates to Pillar 11 of the People’s Charter which is Enhancing Global Integration and International Relations.  Cultural diplomacy is the exchange of ideas, information, values, systems, traditions, beliefs, and other aspects of culture, with the intention of fostering mutual understanding.

Ladies and gentlemen, given that Fiji is a multicultural and multi-religious society; every culture has the potential of enriching other cultures through interaction which will assist sociable gatherings like this one to become ever more colourful and creative giving one a sense of belonging to a global village, where we are able to accept and appreciate our diversity.

As the world is ever increasingly and interdependently globalised, the need for mass interaction and communication with the outside world has also increased. Cultural Diplomacy is critical in the development of peace and stability and therefore depicts that everyone in Fiji and throughout the world has the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community and to gracefully share in its advancement and benefits.”

Referring to the expansion in diplomatic relations that has taken place under the Bainimarama Government Mrs Mataikabara reminded the audience that cultural diplomacy is a useful tool in deepening and strengthening bilateral relations with other countries:

“Ladies and gentlemen, to date, Fiji has established formal diplomatic relations with 126 countries, who are members of the UN.

In enhancing global integration and international relations, cultural diplomacy is a useful tool in deepening and strengthening bilateral relations with other countries. People to people exchanges and friendship associations between Fiji and other countries are critical components of cultural diplomacy.  This cultural festival is therefore important because we cannot give to the world what we do not have.

Such events promote harmony because of its capacity to teach us to understand our differences, to learn more about each other, to understand each other better and affirm our common identity.”

Concluding her address Mrs Mataikabara expressed the hope the festival will achieve its outcome and the participants will find it a rewarding experience:

“Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am confident that this festival will achieve its intended outcomes and that everyone will find this two-day event a rewarding and worthwhile experience.

With those words Ladies and Gentlemen, I have much pleasure in declaring the “2012 Fijian Teachers Association Cultural Festival” open.

VinakaVakalevu, Dhanyabad, Thank you and May God bless us all.”