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Fijian Group Brings A Case to Brussels

  • April 15th, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

fiji-flag-small1.gifThree Ministers from the military-backed Fiji government, reportedly on their way to Brussels on the weekend (14-15.4.07), will have much explaining to do if seeking continued economic development assistance.

The Fiji Times reported (15.4.07) that the Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, and two others, were planning to speak with European Union officials about the rule of law, human rights, good governance and corruption.

The Fijian authorities have been under pressure from the EU to make strong progress on a return to parliamentary democracy with full human rights, as a condition of development co-operation – including trade concessions that may affect sugar and other products.

That is in line with European law derived from internal treaties, which creates a link between aid and human rights, lawful government and controls on corruption.

If the Fijian administration considers it has a case to put forward as a force against corruption, it must also take on board the European demands on governance, and rights such as freedom of speech, including freedom of news media.

When the military coup d’etat took place last December, a spokesman for the Development Commissioner, Louis Michel, said the EU would immediately start talks with the new government, to establish its demands.

“We are against coup d’etats; we are in favour of rules established in a parliamentary democracy”, the spokesman said.

Last month, when the European Commission announced an extension of assistance for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, Fiji was invited to take part in the planning process.

There is a European development office in Suva and authorities in Brussels describe Fiji as a key player in a co-ordinated regional development plan for the Pacific, which they want to support.

However the warnings have been consistent.

“We are now conferring with Fiji’s authorities on the evolution they seek in regard to fundamental rights and the return to democracy.

“If the responses are not satisfactory of course we will have to take measures, to totally or partially suspend our aid”, said a Commission spokesperson, Amadeu Altafaj (4.3.07).

Humanitarian assistance is not affected by any strictures based on human rights performance.

The European Union is the world’s largest contributor to overseas development assistance, its 27 member states together providing EU48-billion (A$78-billion;, 15.4.07) p.a.; EU100 (A$162) per citizen, per year.

Reference: “Group leaves for Brussels”, The Fiji Times Online, (15.4.07)