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Fijian ties move, Indonesians with Papuans fly in

Islands Business - March 4, 2014

Suva, Fiji An Indonesian delegation arrived into the country last night to strengthen the growing relations between Indonesia and Fiji.

The eight-member delegation is also here to hold public lectures at the three higher education institutions in Fiji the University of the South Pacific, Fiji National University and the University of Fiji.

On the visit agenda would be moves to improve trade, investment, economic relation and even higher education prospects between the two nations.

Part of the delegation are two Papuan activists Franzalbert Joku and Nicholas Simeone Messet who will be talking about the reality of the much talked about Papuan situation in Indonesia.

Indonesian Minister Counsellor with the Foreign Affairs Pratito Soeharyo said Fiji could always regard Indonesia as a friend.

"We are here to see the future of the relationship between Indonesia and Fiji. It is the main purpose of our visit. Through this visit, we will have a clear idea of what is expected in the future regarding the relationship between the two countries. "Indonesia is also part of the Pacific also, therefore, we will develop and strengthen our relationship."

This meeting is a result of an invitation extended to the delegation by Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.

Joku said: "There is a realisation in Indonesia that we are not just an Asian nation, but also a Pacific nation by the virtue of our geographical location spanning between mainland Asia and Oceania region in the Pacific."

"That is why Government decided we should pursue closer relationship with countries in the Pacific and we hope this is going to be a start of many visits to this nation." Joku said Indonesia had much to learn from Fiji and the assimilation of different cultures.

Messet said: "Fiji for us in Melanesia is a big brother in terms of its independence. We respect Fiji as our big brother, in terms of independence. We hope the upcoming general elections would be democratic in the true sense of the word."

"From Fiji, other Melanesian countries will see the progress made and that could open the doors for us to meet with them. We are very grateful for Ratu Inoke for extending this invitation. This is a stepping stone and I am proud of him taking this step."

Families of Joku and Messet fled to Papua New Guinea when they were young, where they sought political asylum. Messet at one stage was a pilot for Air Nuigini and had also smuggled arms to fight for the Papuan cause. Joku, who worked for the old Fiji Sun, said much had changed since those days of fighting.

"We previously advocated independence because we felt we did not have breathing space in Indonesia. However, happily, the Indonesian Government heard our pleas and gave us special autonomy. Papua is an autonomous region and that is the answer we were looking for.

"After the process of democratisation, we felt that the noble values we were seeking justice, prosperity, and others were present and we stood to benefit from the change in the political circumstances. We made a firm decision to return home and participate in the democratic processes and also to develop our part of Indonesia."

Messet said some sacrifices had to be made, but now, he said things were different. "We realised that what we are fighting for had been achieved and we had to come back and for the benefit of the Papuans and the Republic of Indonesia. Before, we stood on the other side, fighting with the Indonesians, but now we are standing side by side our brothers and sisters."

"One day we will be able to get Melanesia and Indonesia together and I think, Fiji will be leading that move," he said.

The delegation will also be meeting with the Fijian Defence Minister Joketani Cokanasiga tomorrow.

Also part of the delegation is the Vice-Chancellor of the State University of Papua Dr Suriel Mofu. Dr Mofu said there were a high number of scholarships being given out to foreign students and he said in coming days, Fijian students would also stand to benefit from it.

Source: http://www.islandsbusiness.com/news/fiji/4784/fijian-ties-move-indonesians-with-papuans-fly-in/.

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