"I was pleased when my Foreign Minister [Kubuabola] relented and accepted my advice to him, and at the last minute, to work through Qatar and not Jordan." - Ambassador Robin Nair
I have noted your comments that Fiji made enormous ransom payments for the release of our soldiers captured in Syria last year, over our critical election period.
I single handedly got the Fijian soldiers released from Al Nusra rebels with the asisstance of the Qatari Government. The Fiji Government was advised by an influential friendly Government at the last minute that it should seek the assistance of Jordan and not Qatar.
As I had travelled the region seeking help and reading the politics, I was best placed to advise my Government and not some foreign government. I insisted with my advice to my Government that we should pursue my constructive and helpful dialogue with the Qatari Government on this matter.
I had been physically present in the room with the Qatari advisers when they spoke with the command of the Al Nusra Group about our soldiers. I was pleased when my Foreign Minister [Kubuabola] relented and accepted my advice to him, and at the last minute, to work through Qatar and not Jordan.
My advice was accepted during my meeting with our Foreign Minister in Abu Dhabi and we proceeded to Doha instead of Amman. I can categorically advise you that no ransom payment was ever raised or asked for in my contacts through the Qatari Government nor any ransom paid by the Fiji Government to secure the release.
This was simply a diplomatic triumph secured through the Bainimarama Government's extension of its diplomatic reach beyond the approach of its predecessor governments in Fiji, to work only through our traditional partners.
I am pleased to have had the privilege to be a part of this historic process, at probably the most critical diplomatic challenge faced by any Fiji Government. It required diplomacy at its best, as our PM said, "we can punch above our weight".
The lesson from this episode is that we should depend on and believe in the power of our own diplomacy as we work for our own national interests but not to get carried away by advice from a foreign government who primarily works for their own national interest. We must grow up from our colonial hangups that the white man is always right.