27 Mar 2008

Fiji academic dismisses NZ hint of relocating institutions from Suva

2:41 pm on 27 March 2008

A suggestion by New Zealand's foreign minister, Winston Peters, that Pacific institutions based in Fiji may consider relocating elsewhere have been dismissed as grandiose and a figment of his imagination.

Mr Peters made the threat after a meeting of Pacific foreign ministers who were discussing the interim government's timetable for elections.

The director of development studies at the University of the South Pacific, Professor Vijay Naidu, says Mr Peters' comments are unlikely to be taken seriously by the interim government.

Professor Naidu says it would be extremely difficult for institutions to relocate as there is no other Pacific island which is so central or has Fiji's infrastructure.

He says Mr Peters' comments show that he has little comprehension of the situation there.

"It's obviously coming from someone who really doesn't understand these institutions were established here in the first place. I think if he acquires some more knowledge about the original justification for establishing these institutions in Fiji, he'd think twice about making those sorts of remarks."

Professor Vijay Naidu of the University of the South Pacific.