France stands ready to help Fiji whenever the need arises, whether it be in areas of climate change, disaster management or military cooperation.
France’s strong support was conveyed today (January 19th, 2023) to the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Sitiveni Rabuka from the Ambassador of France to the Republic of Fiji, His Excellency Mr. François-Xavier Léger, at an introductory call held at the Office of the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Rabuka said the longstanding relations and friendship between Fiji and France offers numerous opportunities for the socioeconomic development in the Pacific. He expressed his gratitude to France for supporting Fiji and the Pacific over the years, notably through the KIWA Initiative, that strengthens the climate change resilience of the Pacific Islands ecosystems.
In his role as the new Chair for the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), PM Rabuka provided an overview of Fiji’s immediate priorities to rebuild the region’s solidarity. He acknowledged France for supporting the Pacific, especially as it responds to shared priorities in the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.
PM Rabuka conveyed his best wishes to France as the host for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, among other major sporting events. He said that sports diplomacy provides many prospects for closer cooperation and Fiji looks forward for partnerships in this area.
He also thanked Ambassador François-Xavier Léger for the opportunity to exchange ideas on the way forward to nurture stronger ties between Fiji and France.
Ambassador François-Xavier Léger congratulated PM Rabuka on his appointment as the newly elected Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji.
“I am confident that the rich experience gained during your long past professional and political career will best serve the welfare of the Fijian population not only living in Fiji, but also in overseas countries. I am also convinced that in the spirit of the Fiji-French privileged relations, our governments will continue to cooperate closely. France is not only a partner for Fiji but also a friend. We stand ready to help Fiji whenever the need arises.
“We are also filled with gratitude that you have been honoured with the Grand Officier de la Légion d’Honneur in 1997.”
PM Rabuka was welcomed in Paris, for an official visit, by President Jacques Chirac in 1997, an occasion during which, he was awarded the Grand Officier of the French Legion of Honor.
Ambassador Léger mentioned that France is carrying out environmental and cultural diplomacy based on concrete initiatives and in Fiji, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), mainly through the Kiwa multi-donor initiative, the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) have been present in the Pacific for more than 75 years. In addition, the Alliance française de Suva, is in charge of the implementation of these programs.
“Fiji is addressing the consequences of climate change. The French Armed Forces in New Caledonia (FANC) are trained and prepared to act quickly, in all types of situations, including humanitarian assistance in case of natural disasters to their partners, Fiji being among them. These operations are conducted in close coordination with the beneficiaries, but also with Australia and New Zealand, partners of France in the FRANZ mechanism,” Ambassador François-Xavier Léger said.
He mentioned that France and Fiji share a friendly relations and have a very similar position on most of the global affairs and together they support multilateralism and regional integration.
Fiji and France cooperation spans across a range of areas including climate change and oceans, trade and investment, defence and security, health and humanitarian assistance and people to people links, amongst others. The two nations had established their formal diplomatic relations in 1970.