Tagged: Democracy Project

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Tale of two summits – why Jacinda Ardern said no to the Commonwealth, but yes to NATO

Jacinda Ardern’s decision to attend the upcoming North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Spain – but to skip the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Rwanda – symbolises the changes she is making to New Zealand foreign policy. The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) starts today in Kigali, while the NATO summit will be held in Madrid next week. However, Jacinda Ardern is only attending the NATO summit. She is sending her foreign minister, Nanaia Mahuta, to attend the Commonwealth meeting in her place. Ardern is hardly alone with her decision to stay away from CHOGM –...

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Why is New Zealand’s defence minister visiting South Korea?

New Zealand’s defence minister, Peeni Henare, has had a very busy first half of the year. In January, Henare was the face of New Zealand’s relief effort to Tonga, following the eruption of the Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha’apai volcano. Then, from March onwards, Henare was often involved in Jacinda Ardern’s announcements of military support for Ukraine. The Government initially decided to supply only defensive (or ‘non-lethal’) equipment to Kyiv, which took the form of body armour, helmets and vests. Cabinet initially declined a request by Henare for New Zealand to also supply ‘lethal aid’ weaponry to Ukraine – but that decision...

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Nanaia Mahuta under pressure as Pacific’s geopolitical Great Game heats up

As a new ‘Great Game’ for control of the Pacific escalates, New Zealand’s foreign minister is coming under pressure from all sides. For those keeping score, China has now signed co-operation agreements with Samoa and Kiribati, while the US has convinced Fiji to join its new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF). Most details of China’s new agreements have yet to be released, but they reportedly focus on economics and development – rather than hard security. But like the rather vague and weak IPEF on the Western side, the mere existence of the agreements is currently what counts. As geopolitical...

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Albanese’s Australian election victory and Biden’s trip to Asia set the scene for Ardern’s US trip

Jacinda Ardern’s trip to the United States this week has been months in the making. A stop in Washington DC is already locked in, but the Prime Minister’s recent positive test for Covid-19 has delayed the official announcement of a meeting with President Joe Biden. Reports now suggest Ardern is likely to call at the White House next week. New Zealand’s breakdown in relations with the US in the 1980s over Labour’s nuclear-free policy – which led to Washington suspending its obligations to Wellington under the ANZUS defence alliance in 1986 – means that any top-level engagement carries particular significance....

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Jacinda Ardern continues to forge a more US-friendly foreign policy

International analyst Geoffrey Miller reads between the lines of Jacinda Ardern’s speech to this week’s US business summit in Auckland Jacinda Ardern is slowly but surely shifting New Zealand’s foreign policy towards the West. That was the underlying theme of a keynote address by New Zealand’s Prime Minister this week. Ardern mentioned China only once by name when she spoke to the US business summit in Auckland on Monday, but Beijing was clearly on her mind throughout the 3000-word address. Some of the hardest-hitting passages came early in the speech and appeared deliberately indirect and oblique, leaving it up to...

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Jacinda Ardern’s trip to Japan and Singapore about more than just trade

International analyst Geoffrey Miller examines the motivations behind Jacinda Ardern’s first foreign trip since February 2020 – and says her tour of Japan and Singapore is about much more than trade This is far from Jacinda Ardern’s first foreign trip – but it almost feels like one. Ardern’s tour of Japan and Singapore this week is the first trip abroad by New Zealand’s Prime Minister in 781 days. Ardern has not travelled outside the country since February 2020. The Government is calling the trip a ‘trade mission’ to show that ‘New Zealand is open for business’, given the phased removal...

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Jacinda Ardern and Nanaia Mahuta struggle in Ukraine lethal aid debate

International analyst Geoffrey Miller examines New Zealand’s justifications for not providing Ukraine with ‘lethal aid’ Will New Zealand provide lethal aid to Ukraine? Answering this deceptively simple question is becoming a challenge for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta. Last week’s call by Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba for the West to provide ‘weapons, weapons, weapons’ has put New Zealand’s reluctance to supply lethal aid to Ukraine in sharper focus. Kuleba’s plea came after horrific images emerged showing bodies of Ukrainian civilians killed by Russian forces in Bucha – and a day before Russia bombed a...

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New Zealand’s Australia-friendly response to China-Solomon Islands security deal

International analyst Geoffrey Miller looks at how New Zealand’s positioning on the new China-Solomon Islands security pact fits into the bigger picture New Zealand’s lock-step response with Australia to a new security deal between Solomon Islands and China shows just how much has changed over the past year. In her post-cabinet press conference on Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern carefully echoed Australia’s phrasing on the new security pact between China and Solomon Islands, using the same ‘Pacific family’ and ‘our backyard’ phrasing employed by Australian officials. The Pacific family is best placed to provide security assistance to 🇸🇧. 🇦🇺 has...

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How important is New Zealand’s new military support for Ukraine?

International analyst Geoffrey Miller examines New Zealand’s new military assistance for Ukraine and asks whether more humanitarian aid could also be provided. Jacinda Ardern’s announcement of military support for Ukraine is highly symbolic. The support package includes a donation of $NZ5m to NATO’s trust fund – to spend on supplies such as fuel and food for soldiers – as well as 1066 body armour plates, 473 helmets and 571 camouflage vests. There is an understandable desire to deliver some form of tangible, material assistance to Ukrainian troops on the front lines. The new package is also a measure of the...

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Russia’s war on Ukraine puts New Zealand’s refugee policy and China strategy in sharper focus

International analyst Geoffrey Miller puts New Zealand’s new humanitarian visa policy for Ukrainians under the microscope and considers the implications of claims of a potential role for China in Russia’s war against Ukraine With the Russia Sanctions Act now in place, New Zealand this week turned its focus to humanitarian assistance for Ukrainians fleeing the war. UN figures on Monday showed that some 2.8 million refugees had left Ukraine since the war began. On Tuesday, foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta announced New Zealand would provide an additional $NZ4 million in humanitarian aid to UN agencies, while immigration minister Kris Faafoi provided...

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