Good afternoon Vice President, members of the diplomatic community, cabinet ministers, and everybody who’s present here today.

The essence of South Asia Regional Cooperation is made in the SAARC charter. And today we celebrate this day as the day the whole essence of South Asia Regional Cooperation was born. Now So many years later since the organization came into its being, we are now assessing it and trying to understand how relevant and how operative the charter actually is.

A number of initiatives have taken place in attempts to reform the charter, commenting on the charter. And there is still ongoing work in trying to reformulate the charter. The Maldives is now, again SAARC’s chair and we feel that it is imperative and it is important that we again try to reform the SAARC charter. We have had a number of conversations and discussions on these issues among very many people in the South Asia region; intellectuals, diplomats, politicians, civil society, so on and so forth.

We all agree and we all seem to understand that there is room for us to change the charter or reform the charter. So we hope that during the course of our tenure as chair, we will be able to put more meat in to that work and hopefully come up with some substance.

SAARC needs to be more relevant to experience. We must be able to realise the aspirations of our people. They have their dreams, and they have their demands. As leaders of SAARC, we must be able to address to these demands and to these dreams and aspirations.

I hope that all member countries of SAARC, all leaders, the civil service of all SAARC countries, will come to understand the importance of now attending the issue head on. We have a process that is on point. The recent declaration of the summit, the 17th summit, spelt to have in very clear terms. And I'm sure that we will be able to strengthen the process of the secretariat, the workings of the secretariat. And we must try and find ways and means whereby, where we do not have unanimity in decisions, so that those who agree on the issue can move forward in this implementation.

During the course of this year as the SAARC’s chair, the Maldives will have eighteen different SAARC meetings, and we will therefore be deliberating and discussing a fair amount of South Asian issues in the Maldives. We are blessed with our geographic location and situation right in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and therefore able to look at the SAARC from, in a sense, above it. Being the removed from the subcontinent, but still having all our links to the subcontinent, we are in a, I believe, unique position to pronounce more profoundly, the changes that are required for the SAARC countries to take. I believe with the Foreign Minister in charge of what the SAARC is working during the course of this year, and with the Foreign Ministry working with the Minister, we will be able to achieve a number of goals that we have set.

We wish all the best and a bright future for South Asia Regional Cooperation, without which we still believe that for South Asia to live in harmony, would be difficult, and therefore we can never underestimate the importance of SAARC.

I wish everyone a very bright future.

Thank You.