Bainimarama v Key – strong words

On his first visit to Fiji John Key has been on the receiving end of some strong words from Frank Bainimarama, who said that since New Zealand’s response to the 2006 coup (before Key was Prime Minister) the relationship between the two countries will never be the same again.

NZ Herald: Bainimarama sends defiant message to NZ at banquet

Speaking at a banquet held in honour of Mr Key’s first official visit to Fiji, Mr Bainimarama kicked off with warm words of welcome and a joke of sorts. “You are among friends. As long as you choose your words carefully when it comes to rugby.”

Mr Key laughed, but it quickly became clear Mr Bainimarama meant he should choose his words carefully on other topics as well.

He made it clear Key should not bother to lecture him about human rights or democracy in Fiji.

He rejected upfront one request Mr Key intended to make of him to reconsider the ban Fiji placed on some New Zealand and Australian journalists after that coup, including TVNZ’s Barbara Dreaver.

He also indicated Mr Key’s attempt to get Bainimarama back to the Pacific Islands Forum was doomed, saying New Zealand should show more understanding of Fiji’s attempt to reform the regional architecture to give Pacific Islands a bigger voice. Mr Bainimarama wants New Zealand and Australia removed from the Forum.

In an often defiant speech, Mr Bainimarama took a swipe at those who questioned whether his own Government was legitimate, saying his Fiji First Party was supported by 60 per cent of Fijians in the 2014 election which international observers said was free and fair.

“It is on that basis I stand before you tonight. Not as a coup maker or dictator, as some in your country would still have it, but as a properly elected freely chosen leader of Fiji.”

It will be a tricky visit for Key. But it wasn’t all a Bainimarama bollocking.

Mr Bainimarama thanked New Zealand fulsomely for its response to Cyclone Winston, something he said had forged stronger people-to-people ties between the two countries.

He said he was keen to meet with Mr Key “in the genuine spirit of engagement, and letting bygones be bygones”. He welcomed Mr Key’s sentiment that the past should be left behind. “Because Fiji and New Zealand have had far too long a friendship and we are far too close geographically to allow this opportunity to pass.”

He wanted to forge a new relationship with New Zealand, but expected it to be “more equal” and “more rooted in individual respect”.

“The strains and irritants that have marked our political relationship in recent years are a textbook example of how not to conduct friendly relations between neighbouring countries. They must be replaced by genuine cooperation and understanding.”

Perhaps getting past gripes off his chest and making it clear where he stood Bainimarama would now work constructively with Key.

In his response, Mr Key noted Mr Bainimarama’s wish for a relationship more of equals.

“In coming to Fiji, I wanted to demonstrate exactly that.”

Stuff coverage: Fiji PM’s slapdown over blacklist

John Key and Frank Bainimarama were only expected to exchange pleasantries at the State banquet. But the Fijian PM let rip.

Being blunt in public might be unusual in international diplomacy but it is not necessarily a bad thing if it is not acrimonious.

We won’t know how that will work in private, but parting comments may give us some idea.

 

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18 Comments

  1. Corky

     /  10th June 2016

    Well, New Zealand. Frankie berated our PM in true dictatorial fashion. That is understandable because he is a dictator. And he berated us because he doesn’t need us- or soon won’t need us. He’s got China and Russia to fall back on if needed.

    But where was Russia and China when the Fiji was hit by the latest cyclone? Well, New Zealand came to their aid with 5 million and massive military support.

    This prick is a danger to our region and needs to be taken out. Fiji is basically a beachhead for any attack on New Zealand.

    Hey, Helen….benign part of the world? Blah!!

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  10th June 2016

      file the rust off your sabre….Pike…you silly boy!

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  10th June 2016

        They don’t like the cold steel up them,sir. Sorry sir, I’m filling in for Jonesy.,

        Reply
  2. Blazer

     /  10th June 2016

    The Col showed up the double standards of western nations.There have been numerous coups in say Thailand and never a squeak from the West.When the Col told Australia and NZ to ‘f/off’ he called their bluff of colonial patronage and condescendscion.Our way or the highway is the American way ,as democratically elected leaders from Iran to Chile can attest to.

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  10th June 2016

      And replaced our double standards with what?

      Reply
      • Brown

         /  10th June 2016

        With what works in Fiji.

        Reply
      • Blazer

         /  10th June 2016

        An independent regional policy that suits them not the satellites of the U.S.

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  10th June 2016

          I have no problem with that. If a true, in my opininon, democratic election is held and Fijians tell us to f-off…..fine.

          We lay our cards on the table, tell them the advantages and disadvantages from our perspective regarding their decision and forthwith cut all funding to Fiji.

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  10th June 2016

            what are the advantages again ..Corks?

            Reply
            • Corky

               /  10th June 2016

              Aid money and genuine help. And we won’t take the country over as China and Russia will if it suits their needs.

          • Blazer

             /  10th June 2016

            ‘aid money and genuine help’….harder for the West to sell that line these days….too many scenarios of IMF debt and vulture fund buyers squeezing developing nations.

            Reply
            • Corky

               /  10th June 2016

              Then lets not…besides China and Russia will pick up the slack.

  3. Gezza

     /  10th June 2016

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  11th June 2016

      That’s interesting. Just noticed that that particular Beehive Letter above wasn’t displaying here now. When you click on the link you get:
      Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!
      You can search Twitter using the search box below or return to the homepage.

      and the letter’s now disappeared from: — Beehive Letters (@BeehiveLetters) June 10, 2016

      Reply
  4. Gezza

     /  10th June 2016

    TRACY WATKINS …
    “OPINION: Don’t be fooled by the polite smiles shared by John Key and Frank Bainimarama as they greeted each other on Friday morning.

    Keys delegation would have been seething over the Fijian prime minister’s extraordinary diplomatic slapdown at an official state dinner in Suva on Thursday evening.

    Bainimarama used the speech – and the rare presence of New Zealand media – to rehash 10 years worth of personal grievances against New Zealand and Australia and deliberately embarrassed Key by publicly demolishing some of his talking points for their Friday meeting, including restrictions on the press.

    It didn’t go unnoticed either that Bainimarama was hardly effusive in his acknowledgement of New Zealand’s assistance during Cyclone Winston, our biggest ever post World War II deployment.”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/80933632/tracy-watkins-fiji-pm-frank-bainimarama-dashes-john-keys-hopes-of-diplomatic-wins

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  11th June 2016

      We could have told Key what to expect,eh Gezza. Key and his party should have looked up the word DICTATOR before embarking on their trip to get a face-slapping.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  11th June 2016

        One can probably think of him as a nice enough guy when one’s not getting beaten up by their police or their army Corky.

        Reply

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