Beyond the Scope | Fiji on the global stage; The costs of running our diplomatic missions

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Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka (center left) with New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins (center right) during a welcoming ceremony in Wellington, New Zealand on June 7, 2023. Picture: AP

Diplomatic missions are essential for conducting international relations, promoting peace and cooperation, protecting citizens abroad, and advancing a country’s interests on the global stage.

They serve as the primary tool for diplomacy and are vital components of a nation’s foreign policy apparatus.

Between 2007 and 2022, $362 million was used to maintain Fiji’s diplomatic missions overseas, documents presented in Parliament have revealed.

Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Sitiveni Rabuka has tabled this information after a written question was submitted by Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Lenora Qereqeretabua.

She wanted to know: how many diplomatic missions Fiji had overseas before December 5, 2006; the number of diplomatic missions established by Fiji overseas from December 5, 2006 to December 23, 2022; the cost of maintaining Fiji’s diplomatic missions overseas each year for the period 2007 to 2022; and the number of diplomatic missions Fiji currently has abroad.

Before the December 2006 military coup, Fiji had 12 diplomatic missions around the world.

They were:

1) Fiji High Commission Canberra

2) Fiji Embassy Brussels

3) Fiji Embassy Beijing

4) Fiji High Commission New Delhi

5) Fiji Embassy Tokyo

6) Fiji High Commission Kuala Lumpur

7) Fiji High Commission Wellington

8) Fiji High Commission Port Moresby

9) Fiji High Commission London

10) Permanent Mission of Fiji to United Nations Office

11) Fiji Embassy Washington

12) Consulate General of Fiji, Sydney.

New diplomatic posts

The interim government and subsequently the FijiFirst government added seven new diplomatic posts between December 5, 2006 and December 23, 2022 and they were:

1) Fiji Embassy Abu Dhabi — opened in September 2012 — The ambassador posted in Abu Dhabi was Robin Nair. He served on the three-member Independent Monitoring Group (IMG) set up to monitor the work of the National Council for Building a Better Fiji (NCBBF) that was established by the interim government of Voreqe Bainimarama.

2) Fiji Embassy Pretoria — opened July 2011, closed December 23, 2015. The Fiji High Commissioner there was Beniamino Salacakau, former school principal.

3) Fiji Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — opened May 2016, closed in 2019. Fiji’s ambassador in Ethiopia was Mosese Tikoitoga, He served as the military commander for 18 months and resigned to take up the post in Addis Ababa.

4) Fiji Embassy Brazil — opened September 2011, closed in 2019. Cama Tuiloma was posted there as ambassador. He was the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Works, Transport and Public Utilities.

5) Fiji Embassy Seoul, South Korea — opened July 2012, closed in 2020. Filimone Kau was sent there as ambassador. He had served as permanent secretary of the Ministry of Lands & Mineral Resources, head of public relations and media team of the National Council for Building a Better Fiji, director of information at the Ministry of Information.

6) Fiji Embassy Jakarta opened in April 2011. Fiji’s former Roving Ambassador, Seremaia T Cavuilati was the first resident ambassador of Fiji to Indonesia.

7) Permanent Mission of Fiji to United Nations Office Geneva — opened in April 2014. Former judge Nazhat Shameem Khan was appointed as ambassador to Geneva.

Cost of maintaining diplomatic posts

According to the information provided by the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Sitiveni Rabuka, $362 million was used between 2007 and 2022 in costs to maintain Fiji’s diplomatic missions overseas which were as follows:

Year costing

1 – 2007 $12,166,800

2 – 2008 $12,800,500

3 – 2009 $13,822,933

4 – 2010 $18,457,200

5 – 2011 $19,536,900

6 – 2012 $21,875,300

7 – 2013 $15,522,438

8 – 2014 $27,074,761

9 – 2015 $20,805,493

10 – 2016 $38,240,574

11 – 2017 $30,155,795

12 – 2018 $30,416,889

13 – 2019 $33,449,185

14 – 2020 $26,550,649

15 – 2021 $22,491,804

16 – 2022 $19,307,990

Current diplomatic posts

Fiji currently has only 11 diplomatic missions said Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Sitiveni Rabuka.

They are as follows:

1) Fiji Embassy Abu Dhabi – ambassador Naipote Katonitabua

2) Fiji Embassy Beijing – ambassador Manasa Tagicakibau

3) Fiji High Commission Canberra – high commissioner Ajay Bhai Amrit

4) Permanent Mission of Fiji to United Nations Office –Filipo Tarakinikini

5) Fiji Embassy Jakarta – ambassador Amena Yauvoli

6) Fiji High Commission London – high commissioner Mr Jitoko Tikolevu

7) Fiji High Commission New Delhi – high commissioner Kamlesh Prakash

8) Permanent Mission of Fiji to United Nations Office – Geneva – Luke Daunivalu

9) Fiji Embassy Tokyo – ambassador Filimone Waqabaca

10) Fiji High Commission Wellington – high commissioner Ratu Inoke Kubuabola

11) Fiji High Commission Port Moresby – high commissioner Mosese Tikoitoga

12) Fiji Embassy in Israel – yet to be opened

13) Fiji High Commission in Malaysia – yet to be opened

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