Praise for NZ, Aussie counterparts

Former president Ratu Epeli Nailatikau share a moment with President Jioji Konrote after the Fiji UN 40th church service at Centenary Church yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

FIJIAN peacekeepers owe a lot to the Australian and New Zealand Defence forces.

This is the view of former president Ratu Epeli Nailatikau who was the first commanding officer of two battalions in Lebanon in 1978.

Speaking at the commemoration of the Fiji-UN 40th anniversary at the Centenary Methodist Church in Suva yesterday, he praised the contribution of the two defence forces in preparing Fijian soldiers.

“We wouldn’t have been successful without the assistance of the Government and the defence force of New Zealand and in that connection, the Government and the Defence Forces of Australia as well as they trained our officers,” he said.

He said the Centenary Methodist Church was where the first battalion was farewelled back in 1978.

The event was attended by President Jioji Konrote, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, Cabinet ministers, and the families and friends of former peacekeepers.