Fiji’s diplomatic relations with Russia has grown significantly in the last seven years, says Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.

He said that the appointment of a new non-resident ambassador in 2009 contributed significantly and positively to the growing bilateral relations. Ambassador Isikeli Mataitoga is Fiji's non-resident Ambassador to the Russian Federation.

At a formal reception held to honor our relations in Russia, Ratu Inoke said two countries recognised that a lot more can be done.

Ratu Inoke said the official visit of Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama last year was an evident to that significant growth, and he is confident that the future of Fiji and Russia bilateral relations will grow even stronger in the coming years.

Bilateral relation between the two countries began after Fiji's independence in 1970 and at the end of the cold war era. Reflecting on those past years and how the two countries relations slowly developed over the 32 years, Ratu Inoke said it only began to fully take off in the last seven to eight years.

He acknowledged the farsightedness of those visionary leaders established formal bilateral relations especially when the fog of cold war had not cleared.

Ratu Inoke said that most of their traditional friends, who were linked to the Western Europe concept of geo political relations, had questioned Fiji's decision to forge deeper bilateral relation with the Russian Federation.

He told all those who gathered at the reception including Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Igor Murgulov that the Bainimarama Government's foreign policy motto "Friend to all, enemy to none" was the driving force behind their decision to appoint a non-resident Ambassador to be responsible for Fiji's relations with the Russian Federation in 2009.

He said that Fiji's foreign policy had projected a more independent, fair and more respectful of others foreign policy stance. He told the Russians that Fiji had become a responsible global citizen, ready and willing to play its part under the banner and within the rules of the United Nations.

Ratu Inoke emphasised on Fiji's stand in not judging others because they respect their sovereign right as independent nations who decide for themselves what they want and their people decide on what's best for them.

Mr Murgulov said that the relationship of the two countries had grown and he said that there was a lot they could do for each other. He said that Russia appreciated the relationship it had with Fiji and look forward to their future cooperation.

Meanwhile, a 16 member Kabu ni Vanua group took to the stage to show case to all those invited of Fiji's cultural dance and songs. The guests were amazed at our unique culture and hoped that there would be more cultural exchanges between the two countries.

The Kabu ni Vanua, led by Laisiasa Veikoso, will be a testimony to the growing relation between the two countries as they participate in the IV International Music Festival and Culture for Asia- Pacific countries in Krasnoyskt from June 28 to July 4.