April 29, 2007

Outcomes of EU Meeting: Brussels, 18 April 2007

As of 21.40 h

Opening of Consultations with the REPUBLIC OF FIJI ISLANDS under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement (Brussels, 18 April 2007)

- Conclusions of the European Union -

The European Union attaches the highest importance to political dialogue with its ACP partners and to the stipulations of Article 9 of the ACP-EC Cotonou Agreement. Respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law constitute the essential elements of the Partnership Agreement. Together with good governance, with is a fundamental element, they form the basis of our relations.

The European Union considers that the military take-over which took place in the Republic of Fiji Islands on 5 December 2006 constitutes a breach of the essential elements of Article 9 in the Cotonou Agreement, and of Article 3.1 of the Development Cooperation Instrument. The European Union further states that it considers essential that the rule of law is restored and that the political rights of all citizens in Fiji are respective equally and on the basis of Fiji’s Constitution. The EU encourages Fiji to examine the roots of the “coup culture” and the means to eradicate it. For these reasons, the European Union invited Fiji for consultations. In order to facilitate comprehensive discussions and an optimal outcome the consultations took place under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, and for the relevant instruments under Article 37 of the Development Cooperation Instrument.

During the opening of these consultations, which took place in Brussels, on 18 April 2007, the European Union noted with satisfaction that the Fijian Party confirmed certain commitments already undertaken, notably in the context of the consultations of the Pacific Islands Forum.

The European Union also takes note of the submission presented by Fiji on 18 April 2007 for the consultations.

At the outcome of the consultations a number of commitments were undertaken by Fiji. These commitments are set out in the annex.

Fiji’s authorities commit themselves to a joint monitoring of the progress achieved in the relevant areas on implementation of all the commitments.

In the spirit of the partnership on which the Cotonou Agreement is based, the European Union declares its readiness to support key commitments.

The European Union will continue and deepen the political dialogue with Fiji to ensure the earliest possible restoration of respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law. Respect for the essential elements of the Cotonou Agreement constitutes a prerequisite for the full normalization of relations with Fiji. This dialogue will be conducted with a view to contributing to the establishment of a democratic political order which can provide Fiji with the stability needed for human dignity and sustainable socio-economic development.

On the basis of the report, which the Fijian side agrees to provide regarding the above-mentioned commitments, the European Union will monitor the situation very closely and, in particular, the commitments guaranteeing early and credible general elections foreseen for not later of 1 March 2009.

The importance of and the implementation of the commitments undertaken by Fiji will fundamentally influence the nature and scope of the appropriate measures to be decided on following these consultations.

In particular, the European Union would be ready to support efforts for the return to democracy and improve governance, as well as for the transition towards full respect for the essential elements of Article 9 of the Cotonou Agreement. In addition, the European Union confirms its commitment to protecting the poor.

The European Union welcomes the cooperation of the Fijian interim authorities, which is essential for the ability of the European Union to continue to assist Fiji in its development.

Taking into account the positive outcome of the consultations, based on the commitments undertaken by the Republic of Fiji Islands, the EU will consider appropriate measures for which the Commission will make proposals in due time.


Agreed commitments

A. Respect for Democratic Principles

Commitment No. 1

That the free and fair parliamentary elections take place within 24 months from 1 March 2007 subject to the findings of the assessment to be carried out by the independent auditors appointed by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. The processes leading to and the holding of the elections shall be jointly monitored, adapted and revised as necessary on the basis of mutually agreed benchmarks. This implies in particular:

  • That by 30 June 2007 the Interim Government will adopt a schedule setting out dates for the completion of the various steps to be taken in preparation for the new Parliamentary Elections;
  • That the schedule specifies the timing of census, redrafting of boundaries and electoral reform;
  • That determination of boundaries and electoral reform shall be carried out in accordance with the Constitution;
  • That measures will be taken to ensure the functioning of the Elections Office including the appointment of a Supervisor of Elections by 30 September 2007 in accordance with the Constitution;
  • That the appointment of the Vice President shall be made in accordance with the Constitution.

Commitment No. 2

That the Interim Government, when adopting major legislative, fiscal and other policy initiatives and changes, shall take into account consultations with civil society and all other relevant stakeholders.

B. Rule of Law

Commitment No. 1

That the Interim Government shall use best endeavours to prevent statements by security agencies destined to intimidate.

Commitment No. 2

That the Interim Government upholds the 1997 Constitution, and guarantees the normal and independent functioning of Constitutional institutions such as the Fiji Human Rights Commission, Public Service Commission, Constitutional Offices Commission. The substantial independence and functioning of the Great Council of Chiefs will be preserved.

Commitment No. 3

That the independence of the judiciary is fully respected, that it is allowed to work freely and that its rulings are respected by all concerned parties, in particular:

  • That the Interim Government undertakes that the tribunal pursuant to Section 138 (3) of the Constitution be appointed by 15 July 2007;
  • That any appointment and/or dismissal of judges is henceforth carried out in strict conformity with Constitutional provisions and procedural rules;
  • That no instances whatsoever occur, of whatever form, or interference by the military and the police or by the Interim Government with the judicial process, including full respect for the legal profession.

Commitment No. 4

That all criminal proceedings linked to corruption are dealt with through appropriate judicial channels and that any other bodies that may be set up to investigate alleged cases of corruption will operate within constitutional boundaries.

C. Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

Commitment No. 1

The Interim Government will take all necessary steps to facilitate that all allegations of human rights infringements are investigated or dealt with in accordance with the various procedures and forums under the laws of the Fiji Islands.

Commitment No. 2

The Interim Government intends to lift the Public Emergency Regulations in May 2007 subject to any threats to national security, public order and safety.

Commitment No. 3

The Interim Government is committed to ensuring that the Fiji Human Rights Commission functions with full independence and in accordance with the Constitution.

Commitment No. 4

That the freedom of expression and the freedom of the media, in all its forms are fully respected as provided in the Constitution.

D. Follow-up of Commitments

Commitment No. 1

That the Interim Government undertakes to maintain a regular dialogue to allow verification of progress made and gives EU and EC authorities/representatives full access to information on all matters linked to human rights, the peaceful restoration of democracy and the rule of law in Fiji.

Commitment No.2

That the Interim Government cooperates fully with eventual missions from the EU and the EC for assessing and monitoring progress.

Commitment No. 3

That the Interim Government sends progress reports every three (3) months starting 30 June regarding the essential elements of the Cotonou Agreement and the commitments.

It is noted that certain issues can only be effectively addressed through a pragmatic approach which acknowledges the realities of the present and which focuses on the future.

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