25 May, 2011. Claims of Fijian sovereignty need careful scrutiny, with recent events leading to the destruction of the Minerva Reefs, says Chief Secretary and Secretary to the Cabinet, Busby Kautoke.
"Much has been made of the question of sovereignty in an incident which is wholly concerned with rescue at sea and a purely humanitarian act," he said.
"Sovereignty should be considered separately as the subject of bilateral engagement between the Fijian junta and Tongan diplomats."
Mr Kautoke stated that disputes in international law are never simple, but require "diligence and clarity". He added that the overall question of sovereignty should therefore address the violation of Tongan sovereignty on the islands of Telekitonga and Telekitokelau, also known as the Minerva Reefs, early this year.
"At this lonely outpost, a perfectly innocent navigational beacon, erected on the wishes of our Late King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV for the benefit and safety of mariners, was officially vandalised.
"Such an act, for example, cannot be elevated to the status of a legal argument and there is strong evidence to suggest that the full might of Fijian Sea Power, on the instructions of the Fijian junta, was deployed to attack a defenceless and inanimate object," said Mr Kautoke.
Issued by: Prime Minister Office, P.O Box 62, Nuku'alofa, Tonga.