“Think of all the beautiful moments we had together. Think of your international commitments. Don’t do it, Fiji!”
That's essentially the message from Tbilisi as the tiny South Pacific country of Fiji prepares to welcome Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on February 1 for what Georgia fears could be a lot of sweet talk from Moscow about recognizing the independence of breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Moscow has denied having any plans to bribe Fiji, a developing country, in exchange for recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It says it's just in the region for (with apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein) some "happy talk."
In nearby Australia, Fiji’s largest benefactor, there seems to be little doubt what Lavrov’s neighborhood call is all about. Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs Richard Marles described Russia’s international campaign to collect signatures for Abkhazia and South Ossetia’s independence as “checkbook diplomacy."
One New Zealand foreign policy specialist dismissed that label, but expressed the wish that Moscow will be open about "what the Russians are doing."