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Fiji sanctions following Commonwealth decision


Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

21 December 2001

NZ lifts Fiji sanctions following Commonwealth decision

New Zealand will remove sanctions against Fiji immediately following a decision by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to lift Fiji’s suspension from the Councils of the Commonwealth, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said.

Targeted sanctions were put in place in July 2000 following the coup of 19 May during which members of Fiji’s Parliament were held hostage.

“The decision by the CMAG has paved the way for the resumption of full relations with Fiji. The group has determined that the progress Fiji has made towards returning to constitutional democracy should be recognised.

“However there are still a concern regarding the constitutionality of Fiji’s Cabinet which the Commonwealth decision acknowledges by placing conditions on the lifting of the suspension.

“Fiji will remain under Commonwealth scrutiny until the constitutional issue has been properly resolved when the matter goes before the Fiji Court of Appeal in February 2002.

“The ban on bilateral sporting contacts will be removed, as well as the restrictions on contacts with Fiji Ministers and officials. The sanctions relating to development assistance funding and military contact will also be removed, but the practical re-engagement of these programmes will take some time to implement.

“The visa ban against George Speight and others associated with the coup will remain in place indefinitely.

“The long-standing ties between Fiji and New Zealand have suffered because of the strain on the relationship since the coup. The events in May last year warranted a strong reaction, but I am pleased we are now in a position where New Zealand and the Commonwealth can have open dialogue with Fiji and rebuild the relationship,” said Mr Goff.

ENDS

All Phil Goff’s media releases and speeches can be seen at www.executive.govt.nz

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