Government of the Republic of Fiji
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service
SPEECH BY COMMODORE JOSAIA VOREQE BAINIMARAMA, CF(Mil), OStJ, 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 AT THE OPENING OF FIJI’S HIGH COMMISSION PRETORIA SOUTH AFRICA, FRIDAY. 29TH JULY, 2011 11.00 AM
Your Excellency, Francis Moloi,Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Bula Vinaka and good morning.
It gives me immense pleasure to be here this morning to open Fiji’s High Commission to South Africa and indeed the first resident mission on the African Continent.
First and foremost I must thank most sincerely the Government of the Republic of South Africa through His Excellency Moloi for facilitating the establishment of this Fijian High Commission.
The warm and kind courtesies extended to me and my delegation is most appreciated and acknowledged.
No doubt our High Commissioner-designate Salacakau and his staff have been indulged and look forward to continued assistance and co-operation.
ExcellenciesLadies and Gentlemen
Fiji of course has many similarities with South Africa; including our respective colonial experiences; our grouping in the South countries; our membership of Non-Aligned Movement of which Fiji is a new member; our challenge to remove ethnic politics and discrimination and our need to grow our economies to provide sustained livelihoods for our peoples.
The South African Constitution was considered as a model when the 1997 Fijian Constitution was formulated. Unfortunately that Constitution, unlike the South African one, divided Fijian society along ethnic lines and did not incorporate social and economic rights in its Bill of Rights provisions.
The Strategic Framework for Change of the Fijian Government which sets in place the roadmap to the holding of elections by September 2014, clearly states that the new Fijian Constitution must do away with ethnic categorisation and discrimination, address and focus on social and economic issues and rights, and create the moral and legal foundation for common and equal citizenry.
In this respect, we hope to rely on and be more closely aligned to the South African Constitution.
The Fijian Mission here of course will not only complement the South African mission in Suva which opened its doors on 28 December 2007, but it will also position Fiji to deal directly with Pretoria.
We also have a lot to learn from South Africa; including in particular, your transition from a racially divided country to a nation which champions equality and a growing economy with expertise in mining.
South Africa will also become the gateway to the rest of the African countries.
The opening of the resident mission symbolises the new paradigm shift in Fiji. My Government believes in engagement with the wider international community. We believe that engagement should not only be confined to those nearest to us. International cooperation and engagement is critical to achieving global understanding and peace. After all, it is only through appreciating differences and capitalising on diversity can we become rich in mind and matter.
Thus it follows that international co-operation and engagement will also help us as individual nations to achieve economic growth and economic diversification.
I understand Ladies and Gentlemen that the resident Fijian Mission here in Pretoria will be the first from the island nations of the South Pacific.
I urge you all to also take advantage of our presence here in Pretoria, not just to learn about Fiji but the rest of the Pacific islands. In that respect, I can tell you now that we are the best Pacific rugby team, just as you are the best African rugby team.
Once again, I sincerely thank the Republic of South Africa and its people for being our hosts. I am sure we will now embark on a path of strong friendship and collaboration for the mutual benefit of our peoples.
ExcellencyLadies and Gentlemen
I now have the pleasure to declare the Fijian High Commission to South Africa, officially open.
Vinaka Vakalevu and thank you.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs P. O. Box 2220 Government Buildings Suva, Fiji