Recapturing the spirit of 1971: towards a new regional political settlement in the Pacific

International relations Diplomacy Treaties Australia New Zealand Pacific Area


During her visit to Suva in November 2014, Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, received a very warm reception to her attempts to achieve a rapprochement in Australia–Fiji relations. By the end of her visit, diplomatic, economic, and defence relations had been fully restored with the newly elected Bainimarama government.

There was, however, one issue that was unresolved: that of Fiji’s reported refusal to accept the invitation to resume its membership of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) unless Australia and New Zealand ceased their membership.

As a way of defusing the impasse on this significant issue, and of garnering support from other Pacific leaders for Australia’s continued participation in the PIF, Foreign Minister Bishop proposed that Fiji and Australia jointly host a summit for Pacific leaders to discuss whether and how the regional architecture should be reconfigured to meet the needs of the Pacific islands states in the 21st century. Her Fijian host, Prime Minister Bainimarama, accepted her proposal, and the meeting is now set for early 2015 in Sydney.

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