Category: Politics

Impressions from the Global Media Congress in Abu Dhabi

Recently I had the privilege to attend the Global Media Congress in Abu Dhabi. This was a wonderful opportunity and I was really lucky to be invited to attend the event as a guest of the Emirates News Agency, upon the recommendation of the UAE Embassy in Wellington. It was a great chance to use and practise my Arabic and I was surprised by just how much Arabic I was able to speak and use, both with attendees at the Global Media Congress and generally with Arabic speakers on the street in the UAE. This was hugely encouraging and motivating,...

رحلة جاسيندا أرديرن إلى آسيا تعيد إحياء السياسة الخارجية المستقلة لنيوزيلندا

This is an Arabic translation of my article ‘Jacinda Ardern’s Asia trip rekindles New Zealand’s independent foreign policy’ by Yousef Abou Ammar, a freelance journalist based in Sydney. My thanks to Yousef for both translating the article and for allowing me to share it here: رأي – عودة السياسة الخارجية المستقلة لنيوزيلندا.رسالة أساسية أساسية من رحلة جاسيندا أرديرن Jacinda Ardern إلى جنوب شرق آسيا هذا الأسبوع. حضرت رئيسة الوزراء النيوزيلندية قمة شرق آسيا في كمبوديا في نهاية الأسبوع. وستتوجه إلى تايلاند لحضور اجتماع قادة الأبيك في وقت لاحق من الأسبوع. وتقوم أرديرن Ardern أيضًا بزيارة مفاجئة لفيتنام تستغرق أربعة أيام....

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Does New Zealand need to up its game with World Cup host Qatar?

As the FIFA World Cup gets underway in Qatar, it is worth looking at the state of New Zealand’s wider relationship with the host nation. While New Zealand often likes to think of itself as a small country, it comfortably outranks Qatar in both size and population. In terms of area, Qatar is just over twice the size of the greater Auckland region. And the Gulf state’s population – at just under 3 million – makes New Zealand’s own 5 million figure seem generous. But as the World Cup shows, size is no obstacle to Doha’s ambitions. By some estimates,...

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Jacinda Ardern’s Asia trip rekindles New Zealand’s independent foreign policy

New Zealand’s independent foreign policy is back. That’s a key underlying message from Jacinda Ardern’s trip this week to Southeast Asia. The New Zealand Prime Minister attended the East Asia Summit in Cambodia over the weekend. She will head to Thailand for the APEC leaders’ meeting later in the week. In between, Ardern is also making a surprise four-day bilateral visit to Vietnam. As has become customary for much of Ardern’s foreign travel, the Vietnam portion of this week’s trip is being branded as a ‘trade mission’, a strategy deployed in part to deflect potential domestic criticism of the PM...

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Is it time for Jacinda Ardern to head to the Middle East?

In her victorious election campaign in 2017, Jacinda Ardern famously called climate change ‘my generation’s nuclear-free moment’. But perhaps surprisingly, Ardern has not attended a UN climate change conference since she became New Zealand’s Prime Minister in 2017. Had New Zealand’s Covid-19 situation allowed for it, Ardern would have almost certainly joined the many other world leaders who went to COP26 in Glasgow last year. At the time, New Zealand still had strict border restrictions in place. These included long waiting lists for hotel quarantine spaces upon return – which made overseas travel by Ardern politically unpalatable. Ardern dispatched her...

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New Zealand’s relationship with India is in trouble

New Zealand’s relationship with India is not in good health. That’s the underlying message from a rare visit to New Zealand by India’s external affairs minister, Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. Jaishankar met with his New Zealand counterpart, Nanaia Mahuta, last Thursday – but only for an hour. At a press conference with Mahuta in Auckland, Jaishankar was publicly critical of New Zealand’s unwillingness to renew visas for Indian students who had left New Zealand during the Covid-19 pandemic and called for ‘fairer and more sympathetic treatment’. Mahuta’s response to the criticism was to pass the buck to Michael Wood, New Zealand’s...

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Jacinda Ardern’s tilt towards the West continues at the UN

Jacinda Ardern intends to continue a more pro-Western foreign policy strategy, if her agenda from a hectic week of diplomacy is anything to go by. New Zealand’s Prime Minister met with four G7 leaders – Liz Truss, Joe Biden, Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron – in various settings while she was at the Queen’s funeral in London and at the United Nations in New York. Prime Minister @JacindaArdern and I have touched base on the phone, over video calls, at summits – and now on planes. As we traveled together from London, we reflected on Her Majesty The Queen’s devotion...

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Was New Zealand’s deployment to Iraq worth it?

After more than seven years, the end is finally in sight for New Zealand’s anti-Isis deployment in Iraq. The Government recently announced that the remaining two personnel deployed to Iraq and Kuwait as part of the Global Coalition to Defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria will be withdrawn by the end of June 2023. The mission has lasted far longer than the original two years that were planned. John Key, New Zealand’s then National Party Prime Minister, initiated New Zealand’s contribution towards the multilateral coalition when he sent 143 soldiers to Iraq in February 2015. Upon committing the...

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Aukus door held ajar for New Zealand

Last week’s visit to New Zealand by US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman was another in a series of high-level calls on the country by top US military and political figures this year. Sherman’s trip to Wellington came soon after a stop in New Zealand’s capital by Admiral John Aquilino, the head of the US Indo-Pacific Command, and only two months after a visit by Mark Lambert, a US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State with responsibility for East Asia and the Pacific. A tangible outcome of Sherman’s trip was the signing of a new ‘Framework Agreement’ to underpin co-operation...

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Jacinda Ardern strikes a softer tone on China

Today’s speech by Jacinda Ardern to the China Business Summit in Auckland was full of soothing words for Beijing. The headline-grabber was Ardern’s comment that ‘a few plans are afoot’ for New Zealand ministers to return to China – and that the Prime Minister herself hopes to return to the country ‘to renew and refresh in-person connections’. This might come sooner than we think. While China’s current elimination approach to Covid-19 heavily restricts in-person travel, New Zealand’s own experience shows how quickly these settings can change. After abandoning its own zero-covid policy, New Zealand this week fully re-opens to all... - Understand the world through New Zealand