Government of the Republic of Fiji
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service
19th December 2012: Fiji’s High Commissioner in London Ratu Solo Mara’s patient intercession on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Development States (PSIDS) paid off recently when the UK authorities convened the first ever PSIDS meeting of Pacific Heads of Missions in the UK.
On 21 November the High Commissioners of Fiji, PNG and Tonga in the UK were hosted to a first ever 3 hour meeting by the British Minister of State for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office [responsible for the Pacific amongst other things], the Rt. Hon Hugo Swire and the Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries, Richard Benyon MP [who attended a recent Pacific meeting in the Cook Islands] where a frank and fruitful exchange of ideas and views were undertaken with a view to lift the bilateral relations between the UK and the Pacific Island countries represented in the UK. This meeting was only made possible with the persistent representation High Commissioner Mara have been making to the Foreign Office in the past 12 months on the need for the UK to recognise the important role Pacific SIDS play in the region.
High Commissioner Mara was invited by the Ministers at the meeting to brief them on the political dialogue and constitutional process currently undertaken in Fiji, and after the briefing, he concluded with the message that what Fiji needs from the UK is the understanding and support of the British Government in recognising our Roadmap as a credible home-grown solution to our inherent political and economic challenges. He added that this can go a long way into forging a vibrant bilateral relationship based on mutual respect and recognition of each other’s sovereignty.
The meeting agreed that Pacific Island Head of Missions (HOMs) in the UK meet monthly from January 2013 with the with Foreign Office senior officials and anothermeeting with the Minister[s] in every quarter. This is to enable both sides to brief each other of issues of mutual interest.
The Ministers have also supported the establishment of a UK-Pacific Islands Business Forum in the first quarter of 2013 to raise the economic profile of the Pacific Island countries in the UK with membership to be drawn from the private sectors and Members of Parliament.
Another milestone in our UK Missions engagement with the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office was reached when a Pacific Division was established [with a line Minister] focusing on the Pacific Island Countries. This fully-fledged Pacific Division is headed by a senior Ambassador ranked civil servant with specific desk officers each for Fiji and PNG. Previously, we were a very small subset of the Asia/Pacific Division. This is indicative of the success of our efforts to raise Fiji and our PSIDS profile internationally.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs P. O. Box 2220 Government Buildings Suva, Fiji