by EM TV Online
Dr Sandra Tarte, a Director of Politics and International Affairs at the University of South Pacific, says Fiji not attending the Pacific Islands Forum will weaken the solidarity of the forum.
“It’s not a complete Forum. This was unprecedented – when Fiji was suspended back in 2009. It didn’t change anything – as far as Fiji was concerned. Yes, the Forum does need Fiji and it leaves a weak link in the system if Fiji’s not part of the discussions.”
Dr Tarte said Fiji has until the September Forum Summit to reconsider its decision and with the PALM7 meeting in Japan Scheduled for next month; Prime Minister Bainimarama can discuss the matter with Forum Leaders.
“Fiji is still a member of the Pacific Islands Forum even without its participation in Forum activities and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat cannot be moved out of Suva unless Fiji withdraws from the Forum,” added Dr Tarte.
The call by Samoa’s Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, for the Forum Secretariat to be moved to Apia not a new issue. It’s just resurfacing since it was raised in the 1970’s. Fiji was selected for the Secretariat for its central location in the Pacific.
“This rivalry is nothing new and sometimes gets stirred by outside actors or observers making speculative comments. But at the moment the secretariat is here and it will stay if and only Fiji withdraws from the Forum than the matter can be revisited,” says Tarte.