Prime Minister JosaiaVoreqe Bainimarama paid a courtesy call to the President of the Republic of Indonesia, H.E. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, on the afternoon of 06 April 2011.
Accompanied by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Fiji’s Ambassador-designate to Indonesia H.E. Ratu Seremaia T. Cavuilati, and Chargé d’Affaires PauliasiTokasaya, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation official Ms. Namita Khatri, Prime Minister Bainimarama and President Yudhoyono discussed matters of mutual interest in the context of the opening of Fiji’s Embassy in Jakarta.
In thanking H.E. President Yudhoyono for the approvals to set up Fiji’s Embassy in Jakarta, Prime Minister Bainimarama highlighted the mission’s role in furthering enhanced engagement with Indonesia and ASEAN countries in line with Fiji’s ‘Look North’ policy of broadening Fiji’s foreign policy horizons, dovetailing well with Indonesia’s ‘Look East’ policy. He expressed his hope that the presence of Fiji in the form of its Embassy in Jakarta would also allow for greater trade, investment, cultural, social and tourism linkages to build on the already solid foundations of friendship between the two countries. Existing cooperation between the countries has been in the form of training and education for Fiji nationals in Indonesia, and more recently assistance to Fiji’s Electoral Commission to help prepare it for elections in 2014.
Prime Minister Bainimarama thanked the President in particular for the full courtesies extended to the Fiji delegation, given the short lead time to his visit and despite the concurrent visits by other dignitaries including H.E. Abdullah Gul of Turkey and HRH Prince Andrew.
Prime Minister Bainimarama and President Yudhoyono discussed Fiji’s request to be granted observer status in the ASEAN group, a request that President Yudhoyono supported as providing another regional platform through which to engage, and as Chair he advised that he would put it to his colleague ASEAN leaders for consideration during Indonesia’s chairmanship of ASEAN. The leaders agreed that increasing regional platforms for discussion, from the Melanesian Spearhead Group (to which Indonesia has been granted observer status) to ASEAN, provided a useful opportunity to deepen relations between the Pacific regiona and Asia.
President Yudhoyono and Prime Minister Bainimarama further discussed Fiji’s roadmap towards elections in 2014, with President Yudhoyono expressing the hope that Fiji would be able to manage this transition through a homegrown process that would be sustainable, noting that democracy is a process and not an event, and certainly cannot be created through external dictate. Noting also Indonesia’s experience in managing a similar transition to democracy, President Yudhoyono offered Fiji Indonesia’s every support through sharing of experiences in general, and specific assistance such as that already provided through the Electoral Commission. Prime Minister Bainimarama expressed his appreciation for Indonesia’s support, and noted that Fiji is prioritising as part of its reforms the development of a new Constitution that will support sustainable democracy for future generations, as well as reform of the electoral process in anticipation of elections in 2014.
He appreciated and was encouraged by the President’s understanding of Fiji’s situation, in particular appreciating his words that reform is an evolutionary and not a revolutionary process. These words reflected the work of the government of Fiji which acknowledges that changing the mindset of people to a reformed system will take time.
In closing, the Prime Minister extended an invitation to the President to visit Fiji at a convenient time, and thanked the President for making the time available for this meeting.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation P. O. Box 2220 Government Buildings Suva, Fiji