6 Jun 2011

There is no competition for the Pacific between major powers, says foreign policy expert

11:09 am on 6 June 2011

A foreign policy analyst says New Zealand shouldn't engage in the false notion that there is a competition for the Pacific between major powers.

The comment by Terence O'Brien from New Zealand's Centre for Strategic Studies follows a claim that Vanuatu has recognised the independence of Abkhazia, a Russian-backed breakaway region of Georgia.

It comes after a similar move by Nauru in 2009 and is seen as a sign of Russia's growing interest in the region.

Mr O'Brien says there is nothing sinister in this and that New Zealand cannot determine who Pacific states choose as their friends.

"We just have to take a deep breath and not engage in the notion that there is some sort of competition going on for the South Pacific between China and the United States or France or Russia... There is not a competition and we should not allow New Zealand to be sucked into that sort of way of thinking."

However, Vanuatu's ambassador to the United Nations, Donald Kalpokas says there was no recognition of Abkhazia's independence by Vanuatu.