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I thank the brave Fijians who have taken up the call to serve in UN Peacekeeping Operations. You represent the very best of Fiji. And you, and all of your family members, will always have the support of your fellow Fijians, and you will always have our gratitude.

Fiji has one of the world’s smallest militaries and this commitment represents a significant contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security. In fact, at any given time half of Fiji’s military is either deployed overseas or training to replace those deployed overseas. Present soldiers are all too aware of the legacy that they have to uphold and it is good to share with the public in this 40th Anniversary year.

Fiji is growing, our economy is growing, and our population is growing, and our health system is growing as well, as we put in the services, infrastructure and personnel to meet the increasing demand for high-quality health services across the country.
It is no coincidence that the Fijian economy is the strongest today than it has ever been, we certainly haven't stumbled our way into nine straight years of economic growth. We have achieved that because we have finally brought bold and visionary leadership to Fiji.
Last year, passenger arrivals at this airport surpassed two million, and we are on track to record an even larger number this year. And as that number grows, more money is spent in Fiji; that means jobs and that brings economic opportunity – especially if you’re working in tourism.
As we stand here today on the shores of this hub of business and hive of maritime activity, we can see physical proof of the incredible progress that has been achieved under my Government’s economic stewardship. By any means or measure, from land to sea, we have witnessed modernisation and growth unlike anything Fiji has ever seen.
Running a roadside stall is not easy work. It’s not easy bringing goods to your stalls and it’s certainly not easy setting up those stalls, maintaining them and running a profitable business. It takes very long hours of work, it takes endless persistence and it takes resilience, because in bad conditions or during severe weather, the going can get very tough indeed. While all other past governments in Fiji saw those struggles and the hardships you faced, it is this Government, under my leadership, that is the first to step up in such a big way to make your lives better and make your businesses stronger through this new programme.  
When a nation does as well as Fiji has been doing, businesses take notice. They’ve seen our economic engine churning, and they want to be a part of our progress, and they are more confident than ever that they can succeed in the Fijian economy. But don’t take my word for it, the trends are crystal clear. In 2006, commercial banks lent our new loans amounting to a mere 768 million dollars.
Fiji today is the strongest, the most prosperous, the most innovative and the most united it has ever been. We are the hub of the Pacific; the hub of trade, business and development. And we have done exceptionally well over the past decade, as seen quite clearly through the strength of our economy.
We in Fiji are proud of every relationship we share with the member countries of the European Union; relationships that have transformed the lives of Fijians and Europeans alike. And we recognise this event as a powerful tool in strengthening those relationships, and in finding new ways we can make life better for people here in Fiji, in the EU, and everywhere around the world.
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