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NZ to withhold visas from Fijian touring sides


Hon Phil Goff
Foreign Minister
Media Statement

14 June, 2000

New Zealand to withhold visas from Fijian touring sides


New Zealand will be withholding visas from touring Fijian sporting sides, Foreign Minister Phil Goff announced today.

"At a time when democratic government has been overthrown by force and the future of Fiji's non-racial constitution hangs in the balance, it is not appropriate to have Fijian national or club sporting sides touring New Zealand," Mr Goff said.

"This decision has not been an easy one but it is important at this time to send a very clear message to Fiji: 'life doesn’t go on as usual when your democratically elected Parliament is suspended'.

"I have been in contact with my Australian counterpart, Mr Downer, who fully supports our action and likewise considers it inappropriate in the current circumstances for any Fijian sporting team to visit Australia."

Mr Goff said that New Zealand has the expectation that a non-racial constitution and democratic processes will be restored in Fiji after the hostage situation is resolved. If and when that happens, we hope that relationships will return to normal.

"New Zealand does not hold the interim Fijian military government responsible for the hostage-taking and we support its opposition to any suggestion that George Speight and his supporters be involved in any future government.

"We are, however, less certain that there is a similar commitment to the restoration of the constitution or the democratically elected government.

"The Interim Military Government has already indicated to the wider public that unless Fiji rejects Mr Speight and restores democratic government, the international community will impose costs on Fiji.

"This action by New Zealand reinforces the interim leadership's point in a way that will be very clear to a cross-section of Fijian society.

"The ban will be in place until 31 August but will be reviewed if circumstances in Fiji change in the intervening period. Any extension will be the subject of a further Government decision," Mr Goff concluded.

ENDS

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