NZ High Commissioner expelled from Fiji

  • Winston Peters
Foreign Affairs

New Zealand's High Commissioner to Fiji, Michael Green, has been declared “persona non grata” by the interim government there, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said today.

“The New Zealand Government deplores this action. Expelling diplomats is not the way for neighbours to conduct their relationship,” Mr Peters said.

“Mike Green is a highly respected senior diplomat of over 30 years standing, and a man of great integrity. He enjoys the full confidence of our government. We are not aware of any activities he has undertaken that justify Fiji's actions.

“He has, in the course of his duties, drawn attention to New Zealand's policy in the wake of the coup. That is the role of a diplomat, and he has not said anything other than what the Prime Minister and myself have been saying.

“Declaring a High Commissioner persona non grata is a very grave act for any country to take. It is just one step below breaking relations.

"There will undoubtedly be consequences for Fiji, as this action will be viewed very seriously not only by us, but by Fiji’s other international partners including Pacific Island nations, Australia, the United States, and the European Union."

Mr Peters said he had been in contact with the interim government in Fiji in an effort to work the issue through, and to urge them to reflect further.

"Unfortunately it seems they are going ahead with this completely unjustifiable action. We will now consider our options, and the regime can expect a strong reaction. The government will be undertaking a full review of all aspects of the bilateral relationship, and in such circumstances it is difficult to see how we can be expected to show flexibility on issues such as the visa ban.

"Fiji's action is particularly troubling given that Suva is host to a number of important regional institutions, including the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, and High Commissioners and Ambassadors accredited to Fiji are the senior country representatives to those institutions."

Mr Peters said he was puzzled by Fiji's timing, given New Zealand had acknowledged the recent lifting of emergency regulations as a positive step, and the Pacific Islands Forum-Fiji Joint Working Group appeared to have made progress on an acceptable timetable for elections.

"New Zealand remains committed to the pathway put forward by the Forum for a return to democracy in Fiji, and will continue to participate in Joint Working Group discussions on this issue, in which Mr Green has played an active and constructive role," Mr Peters said.