Samoa Observer

New High Commission cements Samoa-Fiji relations

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New High Commission cements Samoa-Fiji relations

By Sialai Sarafina Sanerivi 08 June 2022, 5:47PM

Samoa has opened a new High Commission chancery in Suva, Fiji with Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa saying the opening marked a new milestone in Samoa–Fiji relations.

The Samoa High Commission chancery on Clarke Street in Suva was opened on Tuesday evening with Prime Minister Fiame joined by her Fijian counterpart Voreqe Frank Bainimarama to cut the ribbon into the new office.

Reverend Dr. Si'u Vaifale of the Congregational Christian Church Samoa (C.C.C.S.) parish at Thurston Street in Suva led the ceremony with a prayer. 

The Prime Minister said the opening of the chancery in Suva confirmed Samoa’s commitment to collaboration with Fiji at all levels together on top of strengthening ties between the two nations.

"I'm honoured to be here today [Tuesday evening] to welcome you all to the opening of our chancery office in Suva Fiji," Fiame said. 

"The opportunity to do so is coincidently with the invitation of some of our Pacific family leaders to come together to discuss issues of mutual interest and concern.

"The decision to join the majority of our Pacific community to set up our office in Fiji is testament of our for regional unity and cohesion and to be part of the collective dialogues for deepened regionalism.”

The presence of the Prime Minister in Fiji also enabled her to put the finishing touches to a Development Cooperation Agreement between Fiji and Samoa.

"The opportunity cannot be missed to develop and enhance cooperation and I am pleased to endorse the finalisation of the Development Cooperation M.O.U. between Fiji and Samoa,” she said.

"As the first Independent nation, we have been slowed to come. However, the delay has allowed us to field one of our most senior diplomats to open this office in Fiji after being in New York in the United Nations.

"Good relations will allow us to pursue many win-win opportunities together. Should there be issues, we will handle them in the same constructive spirit and the Pacific Way."

Fiame also expressed her gratitude to her Fijian colleague on behalf of her Government for accepting its request to build a diplomatic mission in Suva.

In response, Prime Minister Bainimarama congratulated Fiame and the Government of Samoa for achieving such a milestone.

Acknowledging her election as Samoa’s first female Prime Minister, he said Fiame is welcome to Fiji in her first visit as head of Government.

"Madam Prime Minister, welcome to Fiji for your first visit as the Leader of the Independent State of Samoa," Mr. Bainimarama said.

"I have said this to you before over video call, but now that we’re finally together in-person, let me congratulate you on making history as Samoa’s first female Prime Minister. 

“Your leadership brings new energy, perspective and dynamism to our partnership.

"It is my great pleasure to be here at the opening of the Fijian High Commission of the Independent State of Samoa. 

“Following the opening of the Cook Islands High Commission yesterday [Monday] evening, yours is the tenth Pacific Island mission in Fiji.”

Mr Bainimarama said it remains unclear when Fijians and Samoans first made contact, but today the two nations share an ocean and are inter-connected in various ways.

"There is no known date for when Fijians and Samoans first encountered one another,” the Fiji Prime Minister said. 

“Through the millennia, our people have been connected by marriage, migration, trade, sports, and even war – these days we keep any rivalry to the rugby pitch.

"Off the field we are family because we know each other’s challenges and share each other’s struggles as only family can.

“At a time when our region is host to a contest of competing interests, our bond as Pacific nations has never mattered more.”

Shared challenges between Samoa and Fiji include climate action, protecting the ocean and food security according to Mr Bainimarama.

"Climate action, ocean preservation and nutrition security are the causes we choose because it is obvious, they will determine our destiny. 

Most of our citizens live within shouting distance of a shoreline. They are threatened by the same storms and the same rising sea. 

“For their sake, we must speak with one voice, work with one resolve towards the one future that guarantees our security –– a world that keeps below 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.

"Your new High Commission shows how serious Samoa is about building its friendship with Fiji and ramping up its regional engagement. 

“As I said last night, Fiji is the Pacific hub of trade, travel, telecommunications, and finance, and our capital is the one-stop-shop for all multilateral matters. 

“In one trip to one city, our region’s Leaders can make connections and coordinate engagement with each other and the world – a more connected Pacific is a more secure Pacific. 

“As a major producer of food and manufactured goods, Fiji is ready to play a much larger role to support regional nutrition security, shipping, trade and human capital."

Mr Bainimarama also acknowledged the work of Samoa's resident High Commissioner to Fiji, Ali'ioaiga Feturi Elisaia for his work in ensuring the opening of the new diplomatic mission in Suva became possible.

"Samoans began this month by celebrating their 60th Anniversary of Independence,” he said.

“We’re grateful to help you celebrate this evening with another milestone for your diplomatic engagement.

"I look forward to Samoa’s quick recovery as you prepare to open your borders and normalise international travel this August. 

“I look forward to continuing to work closely with you, Madam Prime Minister, to take our bilateral relationship to new heights and work together to deliver on our Blue Pacific agenda."

By Sialai Sarafina Sanerivi 08 June 2022, 5:47PM
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