Friday, August 22, 2008

Fiji Pays Dearly

We pay dearly
Friday, August 22, 2008

THE interim regime must have known from the outset that it faced expulsion from the many regional and international organisations to which Fiji belongs.
No crystal ball was needed to predict the censure the country received from Commonwealth heads of government when Laisenia Qarase was removed from office in December 2006.
Similar condemnation was received - not unexpectedly - from the European Union.
And now even our closest neighbours who are usually more accommodating have decided that it is time to bring pressure to bear on a wayward member of the Pacific Island Forum.
Interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has decided to respond with the claim that Fiji will go its own way if Forum leaders do not allow his administration to find its own way forward to elections.
It has become apparent that Bainimarama has consistently received bad advice on how to deal with bilateral agreements or he has no desire to listen to those who can offer a clear, objective opinion on how to handle difficult situations.
Those who advised Bainimarama and the army to remove the Qarase government would have foreseen the difficulties which the interim administration now faces.
If they did not know what pressure the regime and the people of this country would be forced to bear, these people had no right to influence those who carried out the events of December 2006.
Bainimarama and his advisers must realise that Fiji does not exist in isolation.
Every action we take as a nation is influenced by the countries with whom we have trade links.
Whether we like it or not, Australia, New Zealand and the United States have the ability to bring enormous pressure against us.
To a smaller extent, our regional neighbours also have the ability to exert pressure on us and exact certain demands.
Our exports to smaller Pacific island states bring in foreign revenue and provide employment at home.
We cannot afford to lose this valuable component of the national economy.
Nor can we afford a situation in which our neighbours send their students to Australia, New Zealand or Samoa and Papua New Guinea rather that our universities and tertiary institutions.
Bainimarama and his advisers must learn that a certain amount of humility is needed in the field of diplomacy.
Not travelling to Niue was an enormous mistake which could have dire consequences for us all.

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