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Written By : NANISE LOANAKADAVU. The President of the Republic of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has supported Fiji’s request to be granted observer status in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) group.
This was relayed to the Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, when he paid a courtesy call on the President on Tuesday.
As chair President Yudhoyono advised that he would put it to the 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 region and Asia.
President Yudhoyono and Commodore Bainimarama also discussed Fiji’s roadmap towards elections in 2014.
The Indonesian President said he was hopeful that Fiji would be able to manage this transition through a home-grown process that would be sustainable, noting that democracy is a process and not an event, and certainly cannot be created through external dictates.
He offered Fiji Indonesia’s every support through sharing of experiences in general, and specific assistance such as that already provided through the Electoral Commission.
Commodore Bainimarama expressed his appreciation for Indonesia’s support. He mentioned 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,” the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister thanked the President for the approval to set up Fiji’s Embassy in Jakarta. He highlighted the mission’s role in further enhancing 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.
In closing, the Prime Minister extended an invitation to the President to visit Fiji at a convenient time.