PRESS RELEASE - MEETING OF THE FORUM MINISTERIAL CONTACT GROUP (MCG) ON FIJI - Port Vila, Vanuatu - 14 February 2011The Fourth meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial Contact Group (MCG) on Fiji met at the Vanuatu Reserve Bank Conference Room in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
2. The Meeting, which was chaired by the Honourable Meltek Sato Kilman Livtuvanu, MP, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, was attended by the Hon Richard Marles, MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, of Australia; the Hon Murray McCully, MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs, of New Zealand; the Hon Don Polye, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade & Immigration, of Papua New Guinea; the Hon Tuisugaletaua Sofara Aveau, Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, of Samoa; and the Hon Apisai Ielemia, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade, Tourism, Environment and Labour, of Tuvalu. At the invitation of the MCG Chair and its members, Fiji Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, also addressed the meeting on behalf of the Fiji Government.
3. The MCG discussed developments in Fiji, and as requested by Leaders at their 2010 Port Vila Forum Meeting, Ministers also discussed matters relating to Fiji's participation in regional trade and economic processes and deliberations, including PACER Plus negotiations.
4. MCG Ministers reaffirmed that Forum concerns over the situation in Fiji reflected the underlying values of the Forum, namely the respect for democracy, good governance and the rule of law. The MCG noted the longstanding offer by Forum Leaders to support Fiji's early return to parliamentary democracy in accordance with the Leaders' mandates and the Biketawa Declaration, including through the provision of appropriate assistance. MCG Ministers encouraged Fiji to engage Forum members in a detailed dialogue on the types of assistance required to enable it to move forward on its plans as quickly as possible.
5. In his presentation, Fiji's Foreign Minister advised the MCG of the steps Fiji is undertaking to progress its vision for "A Better Fiji". The Foreign Minister advised that the Fiji Government has determined a framework supported under the People's Charter for Change, Peace and Progress; the Roadmap for Democracy and Sustainable Socio-Economic Development 2009-2014; and the Strategic Framework for Change.
6. MCG Ministers noted the need for concrete steps to restore democracy in Fiji. Ministers strongly encouraged Fiji to restore democracy as soon as possible, noting that a constitutionally elected government is essential to ensuring that necessary steps are taken to build investor confidence and grow the economy. MCG Ministers also noted the continued extension of the Public Emergency Regulations (PER), promulgated on 10 April 2009, expressing concern that the PER is an infringement on the basic human and democratic rights of Fiji citizens.
7. The Fiji Foreign Minister advised that Fiji accepted the 2009 Forum Leaders decision on Fiji. The Foreign Minister confirmed Fiji's willingness to invite the MCG to visit Fiji in the near future. MCG Ministers warmly welcomed his invitation and indicated such a visit would provide an important opportunity for them to meet with stakeholders in order to appreciate the political, social and economic challenges currently facing Fiji and support its efforts to resume full parliamentary democracy.
8. As requested by Forum Leaders, the MCG also discussed Fiji's participation in regional trade and economic meetings and agreed to make recommendations to the 2011 Forum Leaders meeting on possible modalities for better engaging Fiji in these discussions. Such recommendations will be conveyed in a report to Leaders from the MCG which will be prepared following their planned visit to Fiji.