Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced diplomat Jonathan Schwass as High Commissioner to Vanuatu.
“New Zealand and Vanuatu have close and long-standing ties,” Mr Brownlee says.
“In the last year, more than 4,000 Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers from Vanuatu were in New Zealand – representing about 40 per cent of the total workers in the scheme.
“The RSE scheme has been an enormous success over the last decade and, at an estimated $20 million a year for those 4,000 workers, the earnings have a significant effect on livelihoods in Vanuatu.
“Mr Schwass will lead the delivery of New Zealand’s Official Development Programme in Vanuatu, helping to oversee $82 million of investment over three years with a focus on tourism, agriculture, renewable energy and education,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mr Schwass is currently Unit Manager of the South East Asia Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was previously Ambassador to Timor-Leste.
Newly appointed Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has wasted no time dealing with the diplomatic intricacies of his new role, reaching out to Israel and advocating for Kiwis' rights in Australia. He spoke to Sam Sachdeva about the difficulty of following in Murray McCully's footsteps, and the legacy he leaves behind in Christchurch.
Gerry Brownlee, natural diplomat?
The reaction of some to his appointment as Foreign Minister is perhaps no surprise - after all, this is the man who took it upon himself to insult the people of Finland during a parliamentary debate.
However, take into account Brownlee’s experience as defence minister and his time forging cross-party consensus as Leader of the House, and it’s easier to see why Prime Minister Bill English saw him as a safe pair of hands.
Brownlee sees his new role not so much as a promotion, rather a progression on the work he has been doing for the past few years.
“I’ve always kept a fairly close eye on foreign relations and what was happening in that particular portfolio, and in defence you do quite a lot of 'defence diplomacy' if you like, so it seemed like a natural progression in a way.”
NDO/VNA – President Tran Dai Quang on January 11 received the ambassadors of New Zealand, Timor Leste, Cote d’Ivoire, Rwanda and Slovenia, who presented their credentials.
At a reception for New Zealand Ambassador Wendy Irene Matthews, President Quang expressed his delight at the growing Vietnam-New Zealand ties since the two countries set up their comprehensive partnership in 2009 and issued a joint statement on comprehensive partnership towards strategic partnership in 2015.
He proposed that the two sides should define contents and roadmaps for their strategic partnership, while coordinating in the building of the Vietnam-New Zealand action programme for the new period and organise the sixth session of the Joint Committee for Economic and Trade soon.
He said he hopes the ambassador will contribute to the strengthening of cooperation between ministries, sectors, localities and businesses of both sides to raise two-way trade to US$1.7 billion in 2020.
The State leader also suggested that the New Zealand will support Vietnamese firms in increasing export products to the country, especially farm produce and apparel, while continue assisting Vietnam in sustainable development, climate change response and natural disaster risk management.
Vietnam, as the chair of the APEC Year 2017, hopes for continued cooperation from New Zealand to the success of the event, he said. The President took the occasion to invite New Zealand Prime Minister to visit Vietnam to attend the APEC Summit Week 2017.
On her part, Ambassador Matthews highlighted the high potential for Vietnam and New Zealand to lift up their ties to strategic partnership as they share firm foundation of sound cooperation in politics, economics and defence.
She affirmed that New Zealand hopes to foster collaboration with Vietnam in multilateral frameworks such as the RCEP and TPP.
Le Parisien Determined to Identify What Voters Believe in place of what elites believe they believe.
Paris’ leading daily newspaper, the tabloid Le Parisien-Aujourd’hui en France has outlawed from its pages all poll-based predictions on the pending presidential election.
The centrist popular daily blames unquestioning reliance on polls, known in France as “soundings” to have led to the embarrassing set of circumstances in which Alain Juppe was unanimously predicted to become the successful candidate of the right-of-centre Republican Party.
In the event, and as MSC Newswire’s European correspondent had predicted, (see our story below) the successful candidate was Francois Fillon who now becomes the favourite to win the pending presidential (i.e. general) election.
In the same forecast, MSC Newswire had also predicted that current president Francois Hollande would not be the Socialist Party candidate in the election. In the event, and several days after our prediction, Mr Hollande stood down.
Meanwhile, according to Le Parisien, the elimination of polls, soundings, and other tendentious content will be replaced by plain and simple reporting.
The objective being to report what people are in fact thinking in place of the former practice of reporting on what a narrow elite believe, or want to believe, everyday people are thinking.
According to our European correspondent, Alain Juppe’s “Happy Identity” slogan was only finding approval among the media.
Similarly Mr Juppe’s involvement with a funds scandal, which had caused him to live in Canada, was taken seriously by voters, if not the media.
Also, the idea of a Clintonesque co-presidency (see front page), while attractive to the media, nonetheless dismayed the public at large, as it did voters in the United States presidential election.
| From the MSCNewswire reporters' desk | Thursday January 5 2017 |
Our foreign correspondent forecast the Trump victory, and now previews the fall of France’s Francois Hollande ....
| Napier, MSCNewsWire, Nov 24, 2016 | - The predicted fall of France’s president Francois Hollande in next year’s election will bring to a close the initial era of political correctness. He is scheduled to become the third big-economy leader victim within less than a year of the accelerating electoral power of the non-political class.
Mr Hollande is known as the King of Consensus. His determination prior to any decision to canvass every opinion and nuance in his own Socialist Party and also in the string of other French leftward parties conveyed an impression of dithering in the face of islamic insurgency.
Instead of being seen to be heading a tough reaction Mr Hollande’s nature lead him to be more at home leading candle lit marches, vigils and uttering trite panaceas in the face of the emergency. It was left to his prime minister Manuel Valls to express the public mood about the threat throughout France of rampant religious extremism.
Worse still, Mr Hollande was viewed as being over-preoccupied by the star studded Paris climate conference with its breathtaking ritual insights into the blindingly obvious instead of with the much more visible and immediate terrorist threat
The most visible manifestation of Mr Hollande’s pending loss of the presidency is the number of his own hand-picked cabinet members who are deserting the sinking ship. The “frondeurs” as the rebels are known are setting themselves up, they are still in their 30s and 40s, for the 2022 election.
There is though in the anticipated disappearance of Mr Hollande a signal point of difference with those other landmark scupperings of the political classes, Brexit and Trump. The difference is that this time everyone is expecting it.
The winner of the French Republican Party primaries is now looked to as the winner of the presidency. This is looking, in fact, increasingly like former premier Francois Fillon.Mr Hollande’s political career has been an inch-by-inch bureaucratic progression characterised by a reverse Clinton-effect process.
His life-mate Segolene Royale (pictured above with Hollande) with whom he has four children was the glamorous one. Her attempt to crack the French version of the glass ceiling was more spectacular than anything attempted by Hillary.
In the event she lost to Sarkozy.
It was now that that the blander Francois entered the lists and in doing so streamlined his approach by parting from Segolene. The go-it-alone Francois now beat the unpopular Nicolas Sarkozy and the ElyseesPalace was his and his Socialist Party’s.
Four and a half years later he looks like a president who knows he can’t win. He is unlikely to hand over to the rather more decisive figure of his prime minister Manuel Valls.
No major economy leader, not even President Obama, personifies so closely as does Francois Hollande the twin pillars of diversity and multiculturalism which in France’s case are supercharged by the Revolutionary code of the Rights of Man.
Few doubt his sincerity of purpose. It is just that as with the other casualties of this new wave politics, the Clintons, he found himself reading from an out-of-date script.
The United Nation’s Security Council seat was viewed as the best showcase for New Zealand’s noble intentions. But within a few days of its tour of duty ending New Zealand found itself the fall-guy in two bitter feuds—the eternal Israel-Arab one and now the grudge one between the outgoing and incoming Presidents of the United States.
How did the tiny agrarian South Pacific nation with its international do-good mission find itself caught in these two bitter sets of cross-fires?
New Zealand’s presence on the United Nations Security Council was the culmination of a decades-long diplomatic strategy designed to underpin the nation’s ability to bring to bear common sense and good deeds where and when on the globe these were required.
Instead and at the 11th hour the nation’s participation in the Security Council drew forth hitherto unknown vituperation from the prime minister of a democracy, Israel-- the “act of war” comment.
Then, and more woundingly still, New Zealand found itself being distanced by the one democracy whose approval it values and in fact needs most of all – Australia.
The purpose of diplomacy is to avoid confrontation. We now examine the background to New Zealand’s increasingly curious role on the United Nations Security Council..................
The portents all looked favourable. The two year term would fit neatly into the conclusion of president Obama’s last term.
The President liked the scheme, and in practical terms even more significantly, so did his State Department, so recently led by Hillary Clinton.
New Zealand had put its shoulder to the wheel of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. In return Auckland would be chosen as the place to sign the mighty trade treaty itself.
So what could possibly go wrong? In a couple of words, the unanticipated.
The US media has always been close to the New Zealand Embassy. The Washington media was forecasting a seamless transition between the Obama one and an incoming Hillary Clinton one.
There were some lingering doubts about the likelihood of a third consecutive Democrat administration. A few cynics wondered about two Democrat pc presidents in a row.
Still, even if a Republican candidate did win the election, the transition was hardly likely to be disruptive. A distinct possibility in such an instance was the restoration of the Bush dynasty in the form of Jeb..
Again there would be no end of term friction, disruptions. Especially of the type to involve the Security Council. The Bushes and the Clinton - Obamas had long made up anyway.
The completion of New Zealand’s two year temporary term would take place at the very end of the year within just a few weeks of the end also of the final presidential term of Mr Obama.
Back home in New Zealand this happily coincided with the most suitably receptive time for institutional news, and what better news than about New Zealand’s distinguished stint at the top table of the United Nations?.
Few among the general public are aware of the distinction between the major-power permanent members of the Security Council and the countries which serve short tours of duty as temporary members.
Countries such as currently Angola, Malaysia, Senegal, Uruguay, the Ukraine, and of course New Zealand.
So in 2017, there was scheduled to be a nice start at the very beginning of an election year with smiling New Zealand diplomats and politicians being congratulated, and congratulating each other for all the good work they had been doing around the world and while at the highest level of United Nations, on the Security Council, no less.
The good news would have capped a long and in many ways remarkable association between New Zealand and United Nations.
Sir Leslie Munro, a founder of the National Party was president of the United Nations General Assembly, and also served three times as president of the Security Council itself.
Terence O’Brien, still an urbane presence on the Wellington diplomatic scene had similarly occupied high office.
Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark by this time was a familiar presence heading one of the United Nations key agencies and for a while even mentioned as secretary general, a post not wishing to leave such matter to chance, that she vigorously campaigned for.
And yet....and yet....
In Wellington and Washington New Zealand diplomats started to feel the chill as it became daily more evident that the transition between Mr Obama and the unanticipated Mr Trump was going to be anything but friendly.
They hunkered down when president-elect Donald Trump coolly announced that on taking office he would immediately trash the Trans Pacific trade deal signed in Auckland in 2016.
They held their tongues resisting the New Zealand impulse to speak up for the underdog when the incoming president spoke of his immigration plans.
In diplomacy though it is the unexpected that determines the outcome of even the most delicately thought-through plan of action.
The problem when it came was from President Obama. Not his replacement, Donald Trump.
The outgoing President Obama was by now showing signs of uncharacteristic ill-grace as his replacement was making it clear that he intended to sweep aside the cherished Obama legacy.
Mr Obama by now had had enough.
He emptied a bag of nails out of the back window of the presidential limousine in the form of the resolution calling for the end of Israeli urbanisation of its occupied territories.
This Mr Obama knew would get under the skin of a resolutely pro-Israel Donald Trump.
He was right.
New Zealand was now chosen as one of the Security Council nations to support it.
Which New Zealand did, incurring the instant incandescent wrath of Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu.
In the longer term it is safe to assume that it probably also jaundiced the view of an initially glad-handing to New Zealand Mr Trump himself
Australia the world’s 12th largest industrial nation now pointed out that this was not New Zealand’s fight. It would not be shoulder-to-shoulder with its trans Tasman cousin on the resolution.
Could the resolution have been filibustered, dragged over into 2017? By which time the New Zealand Security Council team would have been safely out of the Security Council and thus out of the cross-fire.
It couldn’t. The Obama people, sensing the ire of their departing chief, called in their Atlantic IOUs and ramrodded it through.
| From the MSCNewsWire reporters' desk | Saturday 31 December 2016 |
| MSCNewsWire - Wednesday 28 December 2016 | The absence in New Zealand of an effective political Jewish lobby was largely responsible for the South Seas nation being summoned to co-sponsor at the United Nations the resolution calling for the halt to building within Israel’s occupied territories.
Two sponsoring nations were islamic – Malaysia and Senegal.
The third, Venezuela, was a founding member of OPEC.
The political lobby vacuum meant that New Zealand could be the western, and better still, English speaking nation to sponsor the resolution –and do so without there being any danger of formal internal political repercussions.
The resolution gives all the appearance of having been engineered on an Atlantic axis between Britain and the United States.
It was then fronted by nations which were either islamic (Senegal and Malaysia) part of the Arab oil economy anyway (Venezuela) or were likely to encounter absolutely no internal political repercussions (New Zealand.)
It is also understood on this Atlantic axis that New Zealand has to step warily in regard to Arab nations.
New Zealand informed trade officials that it would be shipping live sheep to the region.
The government then had to deliver a complete about-face.
The current National government, under pressure from the Greens, had to revoke the live sheep export licences
This was not taken lying down. The New Zealand government was informed that among the Gulf states its exports would be boycotted.
New Zealand has still only partially soothed feelings in the region by establishing an extensive stock handling and processing depot in the region.
The freeze in diplomatic relations between Israel and New Zealand called by a livid Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu will take time to thaw.
In spite of a delicately arranged surface cordiality between the two tiny nations, recent decades have been characterised by an increasingly embedded suspicion at the New Zealand end of its small country counterpart Israel.
This chill can only become frostier if and when United States president elect Donald Trump follows through on his policy promise to approve the transfer of Israel’s capital from its current site at Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
So there will be relief in Wellington that New Zealand’s two year term on the Security Council finishes at the end of this year.
This means that the Pacific nation which in terms of population and socially-inclined political outlooks seemed once upon a time to be so compatible with Israel can sidestep becoming directly crunched in another great power game which offers so little in the way of tangible benefits.
| From the MSCNewsWire reporters' desk | Wednesday 28 December 2016 |
L’Affaire Tapie now engulfing Francis Fillon campaign
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde’s exit from the Paris court room with only the charge of “negligence” attached to her has served only to intensify the anger in France over the porosity between their country’s judiciary and it politicians, writes our European correspondent.
The gathering storm is of interest to New Zealand because of a widespread impression that former prime minister John Key is in line to succeed her as chief of the International Monetary Fund, an economic stabilising agency that had its origins in Bretton Woods.
The possibility initially arose when Mr Key was still serving as prime minister and Miss Lagarde’s five year tenure came up for renewal amid the re-convening of a high level investigation into what is known as the Tapie Affair.
In the event Miss Lagarde toughed it out and signed on at the IMF for another five years.
This seemed to close off the opportunity for Mr Key.
But with the presidential election looming in France the burner keeps getting turned up on the Tapie Affair.
The reason is that the episode was ignited during the tenure of the previous president Nicolas Sarkozy whose minister of finance was Miss Lagarde.
It was she who signed off on the pivot of the whole affair which was to submit the Tapie Affair to special external arbitration rather than run it through the standard judicial process.
The recent Paris trial revealed that her advisers had recommended that Miss Lagarde do exactly this—turn the matter over to the standard judicial process.
In the event the finance minister, Miss Lagarde, handed the matter over to an ad-hoc collection of arbitrators.
The upshot of this was that the external arbitrators now proceeded to award to the sometime politician-impresario-speculator Bernard Tapie considerably in excess of half a billion dollars of taxpayer money.
This was in compensation for a Barnard Tapie business deal that went wrong.
This was the famed Adidas deal.
It remains a deal for which most French taxpayers still cannot work out how in the first place they became involved in, let alone how they became liable for it.
In France the affair is often described as an “arnaque par l’etat contre l’etat,” a swindle by the state against the state.
An extraordinary insight during the recently-completed proceedings into the French politico-judicial relationship was that a big slice of this half billion dollar compensation was awarded directly to the Tapie family and tax free.
This it turned out was because of the stress that the Tapie family were considered to have endured during the family’s efforts to claim the compensation.
Even by Latin standards of the spoils system, this was considered a bit much
The unspoken inference hovering over the affair was to the effect that the appointed independent arbitrators in arriving at their generous compensation had somehow and personally been accessed during their deliberations.
By forces favourable to the litigant.
Back now to Mr Key.
He is the logical replacement to Miss Lagarde for a number of reasons.
There cannot be a third IMF managing director from France because the last two have figured so prominently in court proceedings.
There was Dominique Strauss-Kahn who was Miss Lagarde’s predecessor. He figured in a New York courtroom. Then, just days ago, and in Paris now, there was Miss Lagarde herself.
The tradition has always been that the head of the World Bank comes from the United States and that the International Monetary Fund chief comes from Europe.
The World Bank swerved away from this. It was felt that that the IMF would follow.
When it looked as if Miss Lagarde might have to stand down there was mooted an idea to recruit someone to fill the IMF role from a developing nation.
The problem is that developing nations are highly suspicious of the IMF and its motives. So a candidate from an emerging economy, should they be made available, is likely to be regarded as part of a wider conspiracy perpetrated by the United States.
Even so, it is the United States that has in effect the casting vote on the appointment of the IMF managing director.
President Obama is something of a soul brother with Mr Key and if public indignation were to mount to boiling point in France there is still time for Mr Key’s name to go forward.
The reason the Tapie Affair will stay on the burner is that front-runner to become the next president of France is Francis Fillon.
He was prime minister during the previous Sarkozy presidency.
It was during Mr Fillon’s watch as prime minister that the Tapie deal was so surprisingly routed through arbitration instead of the judicial process.
The endless Tapie Affair is now lapping around his presidential campaign.
More recently still there are signs that a president Donald Trump might be favourable to the appointment of the New Zealander to head what he regards as a chaotic and even dangerous agency, the IMF.
Mr Key (pictured above with Chrstine Lagarde) is said in Europe to be grateful to be out of the political epicentre to a large extent because of the way in which in the Westminster sphere such as New Zealand, a prime minister assumes a show business status in which every aspect of their life, private and public, becomes part of the national entertainment.
Curiously under the republican modus operandi in France this is forbidden by statute and the way in which media can cover the lives of elected official is drastically curtailed.
The belief therefore is that if Mr Key with his solid Wall Street and international political careers was to be called, that he would serve.
| From the MSCNewsWire reporters desk | saturday 24 december 2016 |
Foreign Minister Murray McCully today announced the appointment of Sue Mackwell as High Commissioner in Papua New Guinea.
“New Zealand and Papua New Guinea enjoy a strong relationship, and we work closely together in the areas of sustainable economic development, agriculture, and renewable energy,” Mr McCully says.
“Papua New Guinea is New Zealand’s second-largest trading partner in the Pacific. It has an abundance of natural resources, and we share an interest in helping make sure these assets deliver broad-based benefits to the people of Papua New Guinea. As a close partner of Papua New Guinea, and an APEC member, New Zealand has also offered its support to Papua New Guinea as it prepares to host APEC in 2018.
“As High Commissioner, Ms Mackwell will be responsible for overseeing our aid and development effort in Papua New Guinea, which is New Zealand’s largest development assistance programme.”
Ms Mackwell is currently National Children’s Director of the Children’s Action Plan, following a term as Deputy Chief Executive, Social Service Policy and Social Sector Strategy at the Ministry of Social Development.
Foreign Minister Murray McCully has announced that Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae will be New Zealand’s next High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.
“The appointment of Sir Jerry Mateparae as our High Commissioner in London underlines the significance New Zealand places on our relationship with the UK,” Mr McCully says.
“Sir Jerry has been Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force and Chief of Army, and until recently he was New Zealand’s Governor-General.
“He will be replacing Sir Lockwood Smith as High Commissioner and I would like to acknowledge Sir Lockwood’s service and the work he has done to further the relationship between New Zealand and the UK.
“New Zealand is currently working with the UK on the shape of our post-Brexit relationship and the new High Commissioner will be responsible for leading this effort,” Mr McCully says.
The High Commission also conducts the government’s business with Ireland. It is New Zealand’s official contact with the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth Foundation, as well as a range of international organisations with headquarters in London.
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has named diplomat James Munro as New Zealand’s next Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. He will also be accredited to Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman.
“New Zealand has a strong and growing bilateral relationship with the Gulf states,” Mr McCully says.
“Our exports to the Gulf Cooperation council were worth $1.7 billion in 2015 and Saudi Arabia is one of New Zealand’s top 20 trading partners.
“A priority for Mr Munro will be to progress these trade and economic relationships, including the New Zealand/GCC FTA.”
Mr Munro is currently New Zealand’s Ambassador to Iraq. He is an Arabic speaker and former military officer, and has previously been posted to Abu Dhabi and Riyadh. He will take up his position in mid-201.