July 31, 2012
Emerson defends easing sanctions on Fiji
From: AAP July 31, 2012 10:37AM
TRADE Minister Craig Emerson has defended the government's decision to resume full diplomatic ties with Fiji, despite concerns about the level of democratic reforms in the Pacific island nation.
The foreign ministers of Australia, Fiji and New Zealand have agreed to exchange high commissioners to ensure channels of dialogue are open and effective.
Dr Emerson said Australia was seeking to encourage better behaviour from Fiji by resuming diplomatic relations, adding sanctions without incentives were not an effective way to conduct diplomacy.
"There is a case for providing some incentive to Fiji at this stage in what we expect to be a transition back to democracy," he told Sky News on Tuesday.
There were some encouraging signs coming from Fiji, but the minister did not want to give further details.
Relations have been strained between Australia and Fiji since a military coup in 2006 staged by Commodore Frank Bainimarama, now Fiji's prime minister.
Fiji subsequently was suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum in 2009, with a contact group established to continue dialogue with the regime.