27 Feb 2017

Kiribati sends 'strong message' by rejecting Russian proposal

8:13 pm on 27 February 2017

An academic specialising in Pacific issues says Kiribati has sent a strong message by rejecting a Russian businessman's investment proposal, which included a demand for sovereign rights to three of its uninhabited islands.

Anton Bakov

Anton Bakov Photo: Supplied

Anton Bakov, who is the founder of Russia's Monarchist Party, had hoped to use the islands to revive the Romanov Empire and create what he called an "alternative Russia".

He also said he planned to invest about US$350 million in Kiribati by building a resort complex on Malden Island.

However, the Kiribati Government, last week, announced it had rejected Mr Bakov's demand for sovereign rights over the three Southern Line islands as a prerequisite to his investing.

Sitiveni Halapua, who is a former Tongan politician, said sovereignty was not something to be bought and sold and Kiribati should be congratulated for its stance.

Tonga MP Sitiveni Halapua

Tonga MP Sitiveni Halapua Photo: Supplied

"For Kiribati to stand up and base their decision on a matter of principle regardless of their own needs and economic challenges and status - I think that is something that ought to be recognised and respected."

He said Pacific nations were likely to continue to attract more and more international investors due to their peaceful reputations in the current international political climate.

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