Press Statement by His Excellency Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, President of the Republic of Maldives, With India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi
11 April 2016, Ref: FAS/RAY/2016/20

بســم اللّـه الرّحمـن الرّحيــم

 

        اَلحَمْـدُ لِلّـهِ رَبّ العَـالَمِـين،  وَالصّـلاة وَالسّلام علـى سيدنا محـمَّدٍ، خاتم الأنبياء والمرسلين، وَعلـى آلـه وَصَحْبِـهِ أجمـعـين.

 

 

Excellency Prime Minister Modi, good afternoon.

 

Let me first of all convey how sad we are to hear of the loss of the Kerala temple yesterday. My condolences to Prime Minister Modi, the people of India and of course the bereaved families.

 

‎Let me then begin by conveying to Prime Minister Modi, his Government and the friendly people of India the greetings and good wishes we bring from the Maldivians and Maldivian Government. I thank Prime Minister Modi and his dedicated team for the excellent cordiality, generous hospitality accorded to me and my delegation since our arrival yesterday.

 

Needless to reiterate the fact that India is the most important friend of the Maldives. Relations between the Maldives and India are based on the cherished princeples of mutual respect. Ties between the two countries are based in our civilisational roots, cultural and linguistics similarities, and shared historical heritages. The Maldives and India share common perspectives on peace and stability in the South Asia and Indian Ocean region. That is why the Maldives pursues an India First foreign policy. The security of the Maldives is intimately linked with the security of India. During my visit Prime Minister and I exchanged views on further expanding our ongoing partnership to counter militant radicalism, cross border terrorism, organized crimes, and other forms of security threats facing our two countries.

 

 During this visit the Prime Minister and I have reviewed progress on a number of areas for further expanding cooperation between Maldives and India. Key areas and several areas the Prime Minister just now reiterated. Areas include defence security, trade and economic cooperation, communications and connectivity, energy, health cooperation, human resource development, consular and community services, culture and tourism.

 

The joint commission that is established between Maldives and India remains an important instrument in shaping the future character of our strategic partnership. In line with this today we witnessed conclusion of five MOUs in the areas of taxation, South Asia Satellite, conservation and restoration of Mosques as well as cooperation in the field of tourism. And very importantly we have also signed a defence cooperation action plan today.

 

Mr. Prime Minister,

 

The reason I visited, Mr. Prime Minister and India today is to express my appreciation for the very steadfast leadership India has shown in protecting Maldives in the CMAG deliberations. We look at India for continued support in preventing any unfair, any punitive action by the CMAG on the Maldives. It is indeed very sad for a small country like Maldives trying to engage in international diplomacy and trying to learn from the governance of these institutions why small countries are unfairly punished.

 

What we try to emulate in the Maldives is what we are taught as democracy and diplomacy and upholding rule of law. In our country, in Court/all we follow due process. We try to uphold rule of law. And without prejudice and passion we try to enforce laws in our country.

 

Our country is a small country undergoing transformation. My sole purpose; my Government’s sole purpose is transforming our economy to a more modern economy which cherishes the aspirations of the youth. The youthful population is around 65 percent. When we talk about economics, our economics is in fragments. We are trying to improve the economy, transform the economy and empower youth and women. We are trying to build a village or a city for the youth. We are trying to build shelters for the youth. We are trying to give hope for the desperate and restless youth. This is the only way we believe we can redeem ourselves in this part of the world. Otherwise this part of the world is ripe open for radicalism to militant exercises by the youth across the borders. This is why I have discussed with Prime Minister Modi, and he has very kindly agreed that we share similar areas of common interest in fighting radicalism, in fighting counter terrorism we would be working together to rid all of these evils from our part of the world.

 

We look up at India as a leader of SAARC. SAARC prevailing and SAARC giving inspiration to the billions of people in this part of the world is really what we try to achieve from SAARC cooperation. I have no doubt in my mind that under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, SAARC would be a much better place. Geopolitically SAARC can be an important force to be reckoned with. Diplomatically and commercially SAARC as a region can stand shoulder to shoulder with the European Union and rest of the world. It is only in the redemption of SAARC activities that we bring hope to billions of people live out this part of the world.

 

So my earnest discussion with Prime Minister Modi is in various areas of cooperation in India and Maldives. The relationship we maintain with India has withstood the time. India has always been at the forefront in helping Maldives in whatever that we need. The preparedness on the part of Indian Governments in the past and particularly on the part of the Government of Prime Minister Modi is really appreciated in Maldives. That is why again, coming back to our friend who can defend us in CMAG that is the visit I am paying to Prime Minister Modi today. I have no doubt in my mind that the countries in the CMAG and the Commonwealth will deliberate well in the case of Maldives.

 

Maldives in its transformation package is not only insisting on economic reform. Maldives is also looking and dwelling at length in improving governance and also assuming rule of law should be primacy over anything else. In this context, we are seeking assistance from India. We are seeking assistance from countries like Singapore, in order to improve our governance structure and also training capability in human resource. More particularly from India, general education as well as in training justices and magistrates in India.

 

We have had extensive discussion on various aspects that are important to India and Maldives. I assured Prime Minister Modi that it is my wish that under the tenure of Prime Minister Modi and my own that we would reach the pinnacle of our diplomatic relations.

 

As we celebrated 50 years of independence last year, we are today celebrating 51 years of diplomatic relations with India. Culturally and historically we go a long way back and there is no reason why we should disappoint each other. I think together in this part of the world we can be leading example to the rest of the world that a country as small as Maldives and country as big as India, that we can mutually benefit each other through cooperation. Based on mutual respect, based on the sovereign integrity of each other’s national territory and this is how modern world and civilised world should show to the rest of the world that countries as dissimilar in size and resources like the Maldives and India. We can have a relationship that is mutually beneficial to both our countries.

 

Distinguished Prime Minister, in concluding I take to Maldives cherished values from India, fruitful discussions and fruitful benefits I have gotten from this trip. And once again let me reiterate my invitation to Prime Minister Modi at a time of his own choosing that he visits Maldives. At least give us the honour to partially reciprocate the generosity you have always conferred on my delegation and me whenever we visit India.

 

Thank you very much.

 

And I wish Prime Minister Modi personal good health and success in office and to the Indians, the friendly people of India, we wish you all the best.

 

Thank you very much

 

 

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The President's Office
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Republic of Maldives
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