Diplomacy

‘We are not New Zealand’

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said the Fijian government wants to rebuild and redefine its official relationship with the country of New Zealand. While speaking at the banquet at Grand Pacific Hotel last night, PM Bainimarama told NZ Prime Minister John Key that Fiji now was a vastly different place compared to the Fiji that the […]

Nacanieli Tuilevuka

June 10, 2016 11:55 am

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said the Fijian government wants to rebuild and redefine its official relationship with the country of New Zealand.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimaramaand New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. (Fijian Government).
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. (Fijian Government).

While speaking at the banquet at Grand Pacific Hotel last night, PM Bainimarama told NZ Prime Minister John Key that Fiji now was a vastly different place compared to the Fiji that the last NZ leader, Helen Clark visited in 2006.

BAINIMARAMA: “For all our closeness at a people-to- people level, Fiji seeks a new political relationship with New Zealand that is more equal. More rooted in mutual respect. More understanding on New Zealand’s part of our own priorities – whether it is on the trade front with the PACER Plus negotiations or our desire to reform our regional architecture to give Pacific Islanders a bigger voice.”

PM Bainimarama said Fiji’s economy needed to be protected and strengthened to empower all Fijians.

BAINIMARAMA: “We are not New Zealand. We have different challenges and priorities. We are not the New Zealand democracy. Evolved and robust. We are the Fijian democracy. Finally genuine yet still in its relative infancy and with institutions that need to be strengthened. And we are not the New Zealand economy.”

PM Bainimarama said that there appeared to be a substantial body of opinion in New Zealand led by its hostile media which stated that what has happened in Fiji somehow lacks legitimacy.

BAINIMARAMA: “Prime Minister, I say all this because there appears to be a substantial body of opinion in New Zealand led by your generally hostile media that what has happened in Fiji somehow lacks legitimacy. That somehow, I lack legitimacy and my government lacks legitimacy. This is simply not borne out by the facts. We have moved on but it would appear that the New Zealand media has not.”

He accused some journalists of dispensing with the facts if they get in the way of the politically weighted narrative that they want to tell and making up some twisted concoction.

BAINIMARAMA: “We are saying to the news organisations that employ them, send someone else.”

PM Bainimarama said no‑one who reports on events in Fiji fairly and in a balanced manner is excluded and that any journalist is free to criticise the government or him in an opinion piece or report criticism made by others in their news stories.

BAINIMARAMA: “New Zealand television ran footage of tanks in the streets of Suva when our military does not own any tanks. They had been interposed from other sources. A claim was made that Fijian children were starving and were eating grass. These are egregious examples of wilful bias and misreporting.”

In reply, Prime Minister Key kept his remarks short and diplomatic, saying he noted Bainimarama’s comments, but said New Zealand holds democracy dear.

KEY: “New Zealand is one of the longest unbroken democracies in the world, and our country democracy has helped very close by the people of New Zealand. But we do think democracy is important and we hope that is very important that underpins our nation. But my reason for coming to Fiji was not revindicating the incidents of the last 10 years as you have directly pointed out.”

Prime Minister Key stated that he thinks that New Zealand and Fiji will work very efficiently together.

KEY: “The purpose of coming is to say that this relationship with New Zealand is a very important one. In coming to Fiji I want to demonstrate that treating the people of Fiji with respect and we have great hopes in our relationship, strong and fruitful and beneficial actually to the both countries, and we look to the areas of trade, whether it is the area of support for one another and the things that we do.”

Prime Minister Key also met with President Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konronte.

Prime Minister Key and Prime Minister Bainimarama will hold bilateral talks this morning.

Prime Minister Key will be visiting Naiyala Secondary School in Wainibuku and the HMNZS Otago before leaving the country this afternoon.

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