Saturday, 20 August 2016

7. No New Fiji Flag; Belarus

  After deciding to replace the Fiji national flag more than a year ago (see Blog 2) and having selected 23 designs as possible candidates to replace the present national flag which dates back to 1970, the present Fiji government had now announced that there will be no new flag for the foreseeable future. This follows the Fiji Rugby Seven's proud gold medal victory at the Rio De Janeiro Olympic Games which was won under the present flag.

  There has been a recent new stamp issued on 3 July 2016 by the postal service of Belarus which depicts the current flag which was adopted in 2007. The stamp is part of a pair depicting national symbols and an accompanying miniature sheet depicts the national arms with the flying flag. The stamp is printed by hot stamping an thermal embossing on silver foil.
   The country has a long and complicated national flag history.
  Belarus was part of the Russian Empire until 1917 when, during the First World War, German forces invaded Byelorussia and separated it from Russia until 1922. A diverse collection of regimes and occupying forces governed various parts of the country during that period.
  On 18 December 1917, the Byelorussian National  Congress declared the independence of Byelorussia in Minsk while the Bolsheviks established the first Soviet government also in December 1917 but only in regions and major cities occupied by pro-communist regiments. In mid-February 1918 the Germans occupied Byelorussia including Minsk in the latter part of the month. The Byelorussian National Council  formed the Provisional Government of Byelorussia but the Germans recognised the alternative government they had formed in Vilna which declared its independence. In March 1918 the two organisations were reconciled and made a joint proclamation of the establishment of The Byelorussian National Republic which adopted a national flag consisting of a white field with a broad central horizontal red stripe. This flag was eventually depicted on a stamp by a newly independent Belarus in 1992.

  In November 1918 the Germans evacuated Byelorussia and in late December 1918 the Red Army occupied the country and established the Byelorussian Soviet Republic which adopted a flag in 1919 which took the form of a red field, proportions 1:2 with the Cyrillic letters for SSRB in yellow at the canton. 

  On 27 February 1919, Byelorussia was merged with Lithuania to form The Lithuanian-Byelorussian Soviet Republic (Litbel Republic) which flew a plain red flag.

  In April 1919 The Litbel Republic was occupied by Polish forces and declared to be part of Poland but the Red Army defeated the Poles in April 1920 and Polish forces evacuated Byelorussia and The Byelorussian Soviet Republic was reestablished with its national flag reverting to the red flag with the Cyrillic version of SSRB at the canton in yellow.

  In 1922 Byelorussia became a founding republic of The Union Of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). A new flag was adopted for Byelorussia on 11 April 1927 which reordered the Cyrillic lettering at the canton to BSSR and contained it in a red rectangle with yellow edging. This flag was used until 19 February 1937 when it was replaced by another red flag with a small yellow hammer and sickle placed under a small yellow-edged red star at the canton over the Cyrillic letters for BSSR which were also in yellow.

  In 1945 The Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, although not a sovereign state, became a founding member of The United Nations and on 25 December 1951 adopted a new national flag which consisted of a red field, proportions 1:2, with a stripe at the hoist displaying a red and white pattern - the 'national ornament" - and a horizontal green stripe along the flag's base. The flag was depicted along with the USSR national flag on a Soviet Union stamp of 1979. Another example of a depiction of this flag is on one of a set of stamps issued by The USSR in 1967 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.

  The Byelorusian SSR flag was also depicted on one of the 16 "Member's Flags" series issued by The United Nations on 23 September 1983.

  With the process of perestroika in The Soviet Union, The Republic Of Belarus was proclaimed to be independent on 25 August 1991. On 19 September 1991, the national flag of 1919 - that which consisted of a white field with a broad horizontal red stripe - was readopted as the national flag although the stamp depicting the flag had been released on 30 August 1991.

However, following the election of a government made up of former communists, a new national flag was adopted on 7 June 1995. This flag was similar to that of 1951 of the Byelorussian SSR but was without the hammer and sickle and star and the red and white pattern of the national ornament at the hoist was reversed. The flag was depicted on a United Nations stamp issued in 2010 on the subject of flags and coins of its member nations. A stamp of Belarus was issued on 3 October 1995 which depicted the new national flag.

  The flag of 1995 was slightly modified in 2012 so that the width of the National Ornament was increased. The flag of 2012 has now been depicted on the new stamp and miniature sheet of 2016 as described at the top of this piece.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

6. New Zealand Votes To Retain National Flag.

  There will be no new stamps depicting a new national flag of New Zealand because the people of New Zealand have voted to retain their present flag by a substantial majority in the national referendum which had cost the country NZ$26 million or £16million to stage. 57% of the people voted to retain the national flag while 43% opted for a new version (see Blog 5). 
  Many New Zealanders complained about the expense involved in holding the long-winded referendum but the prime minister, John Key, who had urged New Zealanders to vote for the new design, drew some comfort from the vote because it had "stimulated discussion". Presumably if he had resigned that would also have "stimulated discussion" but would not have cost New Zealanders a single cent!
  Those interested in flags on stamps now have to wait to see what will happen in Fiji where the government is also planning to introduce a new national flag to replace that flown at present which, like the New Zealand flag, includes a Union Jack in its design. There have been delays in reaching decisions on this in Fiji. See Blog 2. 

Saturday, 2 January 2016

5. New Zealand - The Final Straight.


  As detailed in Blog 3, New Zealand has embarked on a process whereby it may change its national flag which it has flown, with a short break of 2 years, since 1869 - the grounds for doing so boiling down to the need for modernity rather than the recognition of the nation's history.
 New Zealanders began to vote in a national referendum on choosing a flag featuring a "silver fern" or retaining the respected current flag on 3 March 2016. The vote is to last for 3 weeks. Many New Zealanders see the vote being attributable to the vanity of their prime minister, John Key, whom they believe wishes to leave a legacy for after he has lost power, there being little else to remember him by.
  Presently, the evidence is that about two thirds of voters wish to keep the honoured old flag which has represented New Zealand through 2 World Wars and under which many young New Zealand servicemen served. War veteran groups have campaigned strongly to retain the old flag in recognition of this.
  Presumably, if the national flag is replaced, the new banner will be featured on a stamp issue by New Zealand Post to publicise the change in the national symbol.