6 - 17 November 2017  

     Government of the Republic of Fiji

  Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service


Media Release

Official Address by South African Government at Opening of New Fiji Mission Pretoria



Your Excellency, Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Honourable Prime Minister of Fiji;
Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Ratu Inoke Kubuabolo;
High Commissioner-Designate Mr Ben Salacakau;
Members of the diplomatic corps;
My Colleagues from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation;
Honoured guests;
Ladies and gentlemen,

Ni sa bula vinaka!
Good morning!

It is indeed a great honour for me to be present here today to represent the Government of the Republic of South Africa at the opening of this new chancery of Fiji.

It is a particularly happy confluence of occasions that we meet here today, not only for the opening of the chancery but also to welcome you, Honourable Prime Minister, to South Africa.  Our countries share strong bonds of friendship and rivalry on the sporting field – particularly in rugby. We are delighted that you have decided on South Africa as one of the locations to expand your country's diplomatic reach.

The vibrant rivalry between our rugby teams – particularly in the sevens-code – continues to form an important component of the friendship that characterises our relations.  At this very moment we are all caught up in the excitement of this sport that we love with such passion! May I use this opportunity to congratulate Fiji on qualifying yet again for the Rugby World Cup, which will be held in New Zealand during September and October this year.  Unfortunately, our countries have been drawn in the same grouping, which means that we will be adversaries early on in the opening round of the tournament.  It is our wish that this tournament will further open new avenues of sporting engagement between South Africa and Fiji to further cement the warm bonds of friendship that so happily exist between our two countries and peoples.

Honourable Prime Minister,

In 2002, the former President of South Africa, His Excellency Mr Thabo Mbeki, at the Summit of the African-Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries held in Nadi, made a commitment that South Africa would establish a resident diplomatic mission in the Pacific. It was the Leaders of the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) that advised President Mbeki to establish such presence in Suva, Fiji.

The decision by South Africa to establish its first diplomatic presence in the Pacific, in Suva, was in recognition of the need to bring our countries, peoples and regions closer together. It was also in recognition of the important role that Fiji plays in the Pacific region as well as the role Fiji plays in the international community as an important Voice of the developing countries in general and the Pacific Islands in particular.

South Africa and Fiji share a common bond, not only in sport but also a history characterized by solidarity in pursuit of the developmental agenda of the South in general and the ACP in particular.  This common ground finds expression, among other things, in our individual and collective quest to attain the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set as a target for 2015, with the objective of realizing a better life for all our peoples and nations.

Since 1994, when we in South Africa attained our long-cherished ideal of a free and democratic society, we do what we can to seek closer ties of friendship with all countries of the world to bring about justice, peace, democracy, stability and development.  This is not always an easy task, and there are invariably differences of opinion and challenges in this regard.  But the common denominator is this: in order to strive for peace and security, friends need to position themselves such that they can address differences in such a way that genuine peace prevails.  This is the role of diplomacy.  This is why it is so important that countries station diplomatic missions abroad.  We need to maintain communication and remain engaged – even, and perhaps particularly when there are differences of opinion between us.

After a period with only non-resident diplomatic representation, we are delighted that Fiji now has a resident High Commission and a new chancery in Pretoria.  Although these premises are temporary, as I understand it, the High Commission of Fiji will be a permanent feature of Pretoria's diplomatic landscape.

Although South Africa's trade relations with Fiji are modest, our bilateral engagement is based on a firm foundation of friendship.  Our co-operation in the multilateral arena, for instance, in environment and marine issues; matters pertaining to climate change and global warming; social and economic development; as well as in people-to-people relations, is on the threshold of moving ahead.
Honourable Prime Minister,

It is in this spirit of friendship and sporting competition that we in South Africa are eagerly looking forward to engage with one another in an open, transparent and friendly manner in all areas of our bilateral cooperation and mutual interest.  As our rugby sides will engage one another in the near future in a direct and robust manner – and I have to say here Your Excellency that when it comes to rugby my blood is green! – I also wish to extend to you our hand of friendship. We commit ourselves to work with the People of Fiji to create conditions in our respective countries that will promote peace, deepen democracy, foster development and achieve a better life for our peoples.

Honourable Prime Minister,

As I conclude, I wish to commend the able staff you have designated to represent Fiji here in Pretoria.  Since arriving only a few weeks ago, High Commissioner-designate Ben Salacakau and Counsellor Sisalo Otealagi have worked tirelessly to prepare for today's event. We at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation – and speaking also on behalf of all the departments of our Government – look forward to working very closely with your Mission and all staff in order to achieve all the objectives we have set for ourselves.

Once again, I congratulate you on the opening of the Fiji High Commission's new chancery in Pretoria.  We hope the symbolism of this event will find expression in the deepening of bilateral relations between our two countries and peoples.

God bless Fiji!
Guard Her children!
Guide Her Rulers!
And give Her Peace!
I thank you.