Caption: Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola (left) with Senior Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste, H.E. Dr Jose Luis Guterres in a press conference after a meeting in Dili, Timor Leste.

17 January 2013: Fiji’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hon. Ratu Inoke Kubuabola met with H.E. Dr Jose Luis Guterres, Senior Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste. The meeting provided a platform for both the Ministers to pursue bilateral discussions on important issues of mutual significance that will foster further economic, trade and international relations between the countries.

At the outset, Minister Kubuabola informed H.E. Dr Guterres of the positive steps which Fiji has undertaken to ensure the restoration of democracy in Fiji. On the development of the new constitution, Minister Kubuabola informed Minister Guterres that Fiji has successfully completed its constitutional consultation process and a first draft of the Constitution has been submitted to H.E. the President. He further clarified the fact that the current draft will be amended to ensure a more balanced outcome is obtained. In other words the new constitution will ensure sustainable democracy for all Fijians. A finalized dossier is expected to be ready by March 2013.

Hon. Minister Kubuabola also informed on the unprecedented progress that Fiji has made in its voter registration process. He added that to date, more than 50% of the population are registered under the electronic system of voting. “This will be a first time in the history of Fiji where the concept of one person and one vote will be applied, reflecting true democracy” added Hon. Minister Kubuabola.

H.E. Guterres acknowledged the mile stone achievements made by Fiji towards parliamentary elections. He informed Minister Kubuabola of Timor Leste’s full confidence in Fiji and provided his unwavering support to Fiji in this regard.

On the bilateral front, Hon. Minister Kubuabola informed H.E. Dr Guterres of areas of interest where both countries could benefit significantly. Minister Kubuabola offered to Timor Leste the consideration of Reciprocal Waiver of Visa for Visitors between the two countries under possible “Reciprocal Visa Waiver Agreement”. Furthermore, Minister Kubuabola has also invited Timor Leste to join the Fiji Volunteer Scheme which will aid Timor Leste in meeting its labour demands and technical capacities.

Minister Gutress welcomed the offers made by Fiji and further suggested sector specific technical assistance. “Timor Leste wishes to learn from the experience of Fiji in sectors such as Tourism, development of own Air lines and Fisheries”, added Minister Gutress.

Minister Kubuabola has offered Timor Leste “to consider a Development Cooperation Agreement with Fiji, similar to those which Fiji has with other developing partners such as Indonesia. The Development Cooperation Agreement is an overarching agreement constituting an array of areas of cooperation which Timor Leste could capitalize on including the areas of interest mentioned”, added Minister Kubuabola.

In addition to this, Minister Kubuabola thanked Timor Leste for its continued participation in the Engagement with the Pacific Meeting and encouraged its ongoing involvement under the predecessor the Pacific Island Development Forum. The Pacific Island Development Forum, he added, is a unit which will be in the interim based at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Both Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to further the issues discussed today over the next few months with a view for a Development Cooperation Agreement to be concluded to by both countries.



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