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Pacific Islands Forum no longer serves our interests: PM

MAIKA BOLATIKI

The Pacific Islands Development Forum is here to stay.
The Prime Minister, Rear Admiral (Retired) Voreqe Bainimarama made this comment to the Fiji Sun after opening the new PIDF Secretariat at Nasese in Suva yesterday.

In his opening address he said: “We don’t see the PIDF as a competitor for the existing Pacific Islands Forum. It is not a question of governments having to choose between the two. But Fiji no longer believes that the Pacific Islands Forum – in its existing form – adequately serves the interests of all Pacific islanders. We also believe that the Forum has become overly bureaucratic.”

During the PIDF’s inaugural meeting in Nadi last year, the Prime Minister had said the PIDF was a platform where Pacific governments, civil society organisations and businesses, can work together to enhance the cause of the people of the Pacific.

He added weight to this when he said yesterday: “We are beginning a new era of regional co-operation – one that is much more inclusive than that of any existing structure.”

However, when asked about Fiji’s membership to the PIF, he referred the Fiji Sun to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola. Ratu Inoke said Fiji’s return to PIF was very unlikely. He said Fiji had set conditions for its re-entry and if they were not met, Fiji would stay out. One of the conditions, he said, was for New Zealand and Australia not to be members of PIF.

“The two countries are major donors to PIF and at the same time they are members,” Ratu Inoke said.

He said the two countries had manipulated the PIF and member countries followed what they said.

“There must be a review in PIF and the issue of the donor and membership must be relooked at.”

Ratu Inoke said if they were donors they should stay out and let the island countries be members of the PIF.

Source: Fiji Sun Website

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