Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama met in London yesterday with Hugo Swire, British Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office where he conveyed his aim to strengthen ties between the UK, Fiji and other Pacific nations like Papua New Guinea.
During the meeting, the Prime Minister conveyed Fiji’s desire to strengthen the bilateral relations between the United Kingdom and Fiji, especially in light of the strong historical links between the two nations. The Prime Minister pointed out that to this day a significant number of Fijians still serve in the British Armed Forces.
The Prime Minister took the opportunity to provide an update on the recent political developments in Fiji, focusing on the success of the General Election in September, which was deemed free and fair by a Multinational Observer Group that included five observers from the UK.
He highlighted Fiji’s milestone achievement in moving away from race based politics by adopting an electoral system based on the principle of equal votes of equal value.
He also highlighted Fiji’s advances both within the Pacific region and on the international stage, citing the expansion of its Foreign Missions and its increased support for its Pacific island neighbours through the Pacific Island Development Forum, which is focused on sustainable development and green economies.
The Prime Minister acknowledged the Minister’s role in the formation of the All Party Political Group on the Pacific (APPG) and the proposed Pacific Island Business Forum, hailing these developments as positive tools to raise the unique development challenges of the Pacific region in the UK.
The meeting also provided an opportunity for the Prime Minister to discuss the challenge climate change poses for Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS). The Prime Minister said that Fiji would appreciate more support from the UK to assist some of the worst affected islands in the region, like Kiribati and Tuvalu.
The two also discussed defence cooperation, technical training, and trade and investment opportunities during their meeting.
The meeting ended with MrSwire agreeing with the Prime Minister to pursue stronger relations between the two countries, with the possibility of a high level visit in 2015.