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By Staff Reporter : PNG Today

'Urgent' NZ, Australia rebuild defence links with Fiji as Russia exerts influence - study

A new study says it's urgent New Zealand and Australia rebuild defence links with Fiji as the island nation makes strong military ties with Russia.

The analysis published by the Lowy Institute for International Policy says New Zealand and Australia have let the ball drop with their Pacific neighbour and Russia’s motives in Fiji appear to be opportunistic - possibly linked to easy access to UN votes.

Co-author Anna Powles told ONE News Russia’s arms deal earlier this year with Fiji and extending ties within the Pacific region would be concerning to the US who have always thought of the Pacific as being aligned with western ideals.

Anna Powles said that in terms of re-engaging with Fiji military, Australia and New Zealand should recognise it as more an equal, but not at the expense of human rights and good governance.

But she says geo-politics in the region is changing and Wellington and Canberra need to be smarter in their engagement with Fiji.

“Developing relationships truly based on equal partnerships, cooperation and mutual respect, and that goes both ways.”

“But it's incredibly important that that be recognised in a way that Wellington and Canberra engages with the Pacific, and that's not necessarily the way that these relationships are currently playing out or have done so in the last few years,” she said.

The paper, titled 'Principled Engagement: Rebuilding Defence Ties with Fiji', suggests making strong personal links between New Zealand, Australian and Fijian defence forces, including exchanges of personnel and multinational training exercises.

The main recommendation is that the three countries set up a regional peacekeeping centre of excellence in Fiji - and while there has already been informal discussions that Australia leads this - the report emphasises it needs to be more of a partnership given Fiji’s vast experience in that area.

Another recommendation is that a Pacific Disaster Response and Coordination Unit be set up in which Fiji takes a leading role.

The study authors say it's critical action is taken now.


Posted by Staff Reporter : PNG Today on 10:46 PM. Filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Share this Article


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