Deputy Speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, Distinguished businessmen, Principal of the school, students and all those gathered here, Good day.

While the first President of the Maldives writes about the reminiscence of his father and the gratefulness that he has to his father in dhariyegge shukuru - there is a section in this book where the President says that the most cherished and valued property or anything that his father had was a tharikah from a Turkish school. He visited Turkey early in the 1900. We’ve had a lot of contact with Turkey previous to that. In fact, his father, Ibrahim Dhoshimeyna Kilegefaanu, in the late 1800 became the first councillor to Turkey from the Maldives and he was also the Turkish Ambassador appointed to South Asia Region. Ibrahim Dhoshimeyna Kilegefaanu valued and cherished his connections with Turkey, because as it had been mentioned here that when Frederick Barbarossa came in search of the values of the Maldives, it was Turkish ships who assisted the Maldives at that instance.

Our relationship actually goes much further back than that. The whole sultanate of the Maldives is designed exactly in line with the Turkish forms of government and governance. So basically, prior to British colonialism we’ve had a lot of Ottoman influence in the form that we developed politically.

Of course, we are a little late in realising that Turkey has turned democratic a long time ago, in fact almost at the tern of the century. We have been able to achieve this goal much later, only recently. While we do this, we of course, always, look at Turkey for examples; for experience; for lessons. We are presently going through a phase in the history of this country which Turkey had gone through some hundred years back. We therefore, have a lot to learn form Turkey – an amazing amount.

By trying to understand the situation in Turkey at that time and the situation in Turkey now and by comparing both countries now and then and here and there, we are trying to learn form Turkey. And therefore, for me, it is so important that today we have knowledge closer at home. And we have knowledge disseminated, we have knowledge given to our children here in the Maldives by the same Turkish principles, same Turkish ideologies, and same Turkish knowledge base. Islam in the Maldives was traditionally from Turkey. There is no doubt about that. We are Sufis as much as the Turks have been all throughout their Islamic history.

It is indeed a great pleasure to open this school here. Not only because it would teach us a lot but also because it would teach us how we may move forward in our endeavour to consolidate democracy in the Maldives.

We’ve had out first multiparty elections in the Maldives. And we are very pleased with the results now because any party won or lost – that is just a very small part of the picture. Most important is that we have been able to go through these elections a) without intimidating the people, b) without arresting anyone and also without any undue influence from the government on the elections. I congratulate all those who had been elected and we are so pleased that there is a vibrant opposition and this opposition will keep the government on track, and make the government answerable to the people.

If you again map this situation to the Turkish experience, you would understand how much we need you. And we thank you very much.

This government has embarked upon a policy of economic liberalisation. We do not feel that it is the business of the state to be in business but rather the state should be regulating businesses and providing opportunities to the people. We want to see more Turkish and other international investments in the Maldives: we are very open for that.

This school is again more important for us because it is one of the very first of the new model of schools and other ventures that we want to have in this country through implementing the policies of our government. We have hit upon and picked up the idea of public-private-partnership. We want to develop them not only because we want to give an excellent education to some of the people but because we feel that this school will ease the pressure on the state education system. And a number of such schools, I think, would certainly ease more on the pressure that the state education system are going through right now.

We are spending a lot on education. In fact we are spending almost to the same tune as this school is charging per head. The government is spending on per student almost or perhaps not the same, but a fair amount that would reflect a fair percentage of the fees of this school. So we feel that it is also possible for government to look into ways and means and measures of how the government may be able to provide a certain number of scholarships to these schools if they have the capacity. We also feel that both the Turkish government and other international and bilateral agencies would assist us in providing a number of scholarships to institutions such as this and others. Hopefully that would be built soon.

We want to attract international investments. The government of Maldives buy more than 200 million dollars of supplies each year. The private sector would buy another 400 million supplies each year. For a population of 300 thousand this is a fair amount. Not only because we have more tourists in our country in any given time - as much as the population of the country. So we have consumers who are Europeans. We have close to a million European consumers in the country consuming at least for a month each year. And on top of that we have our local population and therefore, our imports bill is very high. We have good healthy balance of payments situation. So you know, all that trade is open for Turkish businessmen. We understand the quality of Turkish products and it is we will welcome the Turkish men to seek out consumers here in the Maldives.

The government also spent more than another 100 million dollars on public sector investment programme – in infrastructure, development of harbours, dredging, roads, building schools, construction and so on and so forth. We also would like to open up, and in fact we have – opened up this factor to foreign investments as well.

All in all, I feel that this is a happy day. We can learn a lot from each other. We would, of course, keep on voting for Turkey in international arenas. We have been doing that for the past one thousand years. There is no logical reason why we should be doing anything else. And we would also like to see more Turkish engagements in the Maldives, especially in economic affairs and in investments. And also in bilateral and international issues.

We have an acute Islamic radicalism problem and it would be indeed so helpful if the Turkish authorities and experience can be used in this area – how we may be able to liberalise the society, make the society a more tolerant society and there is no other country better suited than Turkey to assist us here.

We are a hundred percent Muslim country. Not very often you would find home-grown democratic movements in Muslim countries able to galvanise the people into political activism; have free and fair elections; and, also have a smooth transfer of power.

Democracy needs to be consolidated. It is not easy – not at all. We are under pressure from all corners. People want delivery. In a democracy we should be able to deliver. Democracy shouldn’t be a form where it hinders people from enriching themselves or having a better life. So that’s what we have been promising. And, I’m sure you would all agree with me, that in believing democracy will deliver, that it will build drainages, it will build sewerages, it will build water systems, roads, harbours, transport systems, housing and so we again stress how important for us it is the relationship between both our governments.

I thank the Turkish business community for coming to the Maldives. We hope that you would be able to look into all the business opportunities available here in the Maldives. We would like to see happier days and prosper together.

Again thank you very much for everyone for attending. And god bless us all. Thank you.