December 11, 2014- Fiji’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, said today that Fiji’s call for rationalisation of the regional architecture of the Pacific Islands was rooted in fair play and logic.
Minister Kubuabola said Fiji firmly believed that the regional architecture of the Pacific Islands must be robust and fit for purpose in order to meet the great challenges facing the Pacific Islands in the 21st Century.
Minister Kubuabola noted that some sections of the Australasian media had been portraying Fiji’s position as being one bent on the eviction of Australia and New Zealand from the Pacific Islands Forum. Ratu Inoke said this was not an accurate picture of what he had been saying on the subject. He said in this regard Fiji’s position was one of creating a level playing field for development partners of the Pacific Islands.
Ratu Inoke said that regional governance of the Pacific Islands, all of which are developing countries, was primarily the responsibility of the Pacific Islands themselves. As such it was logical that as metropolitan developed countries, Australia and New Zealand should take a step back.
However, if it is consensus that Pacific Islands perceive that these two developed countries should have a place at the regional governance table, then it was only fair that room should be made for other development partners which are interested in joining them at the table.
Minister Kubuabola said that Fiji was approaching the regional meeting, to be hosted by Australia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs in Sydney in February, in a positive spirit. He said it was premature to go into the details of what Fiji would be presenting at the meeting, but that rationalisation would be at the core.
He said too much funding was being diverted away from much-needed development programmes to the running of the various regional bureaucracies; with duplication, overlapping and lack of robustness clearly evident in the current set-up.
Ratu Inoke said the rationalisation of regional architecture for the Pacific Islands should have the best interests of the Pacific Islands at its heart. He said the Pacific interests of development partners concerned were important, but they were secondary to those of the developing country Pacific Islands in the context of the Pacific Islands regional governance.
He said this reflects world best practice, as observed in such regional architecture as ASEAN, CARICOM and the African Union.