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Fiji – A Year On From The Coup

18 May 2001


One year on from the coup Fiji faces a crucial phase of its history following the crippling effects of the events of last May 19, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today

"The cost of the coup to Fiji have been enormous, socially and economically. The Fijian economy contracted 8.2% in the calendar 2000 year. Visitor arrivals in 2000 collapsed by almost 30%.

"The migration flow to New Zealand from Fiji has seen a significant increase with applications up by over a third. Half of these applications are by skilled workers – people Fiji can ill afford to lose.

"But there is hope for Fiji and New Zealand welcomes the upcoming August 25 election. That will at least restore a constitutional democracy and a legitimate government with a popular mandate.

"New Zealand realises what a crucial step on the path back to recovery this is for Fiji. That is why the Government will provide $700,000 in assistance to help ensure the General Election takes place as scheduled in a free and fair manner.

"It is equally important for Fiji's future that the formation of a democratic government adopts polices and an approach which will result in stability. Such a government will need to promote reconciliation and tolerance.

"It faces big economic and social issues and will need to convince the international community that Fiji is a good place to invest, assist and holiday in.

"Those responsible for the coup must be held accountable. New Zealand police and prosecutors have been assisting with the treason case against George Speight and his cohorts.

"Two senior detectives along with Australian police have been reviewing evidence to aid in the preparation of the prosecution case.

"New Zealand will keep smart sanctions in place against those identified as instigators of and participants of the coup. Other sanctions will be progressively lifted once a democratic government is in place following the election.

"Fiji had the promise and potential to be one of the most successful Pacific nations but last year's coup put that progress back ten years.

"New Zealand has long been not only a close neighbour but a close friend of Fiji. We want to restore a normal and close relationship and with Fiji for the betterment of its people and the Pacific. I hope that conditions in Fiji will allow for that to happen," Mr Goff said.

ENDS


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