Honourable ministers, Honourable members of the Parliament, Excellency High commissionaires, members of the India Maldives friendship association, Excellency’s, ladies and gentlemen.

Assalamu Alaikum and Namaste.

On the occasion of the forty seventh anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Maldives and India, I wish to extend, my warm felicitations and sincere good wishes on behalf of the Government and people of the Maldives, to the Government and the friendly people of India.

As we celebrate this happy occasion, let us also remember the people of India and Maldives who are currently suffering the devastating effects of the tropical cyclone “Neelam”, our prayers and thoughts are with our brothers and sisters in the effected areas in both countries.

During the past years, the relations between the Maldives and India have further grown stronger. The close and friendly relation that exists between the Maldives and India is based on mutual respect, understanding and reinforced by a shared vision of a better future for our people and our region. India has been a major contributor and vital development partner of the Maldives assisting in every facet of life ranging from the political to the economic to the socio-cultural. Maldives continues to receive valuable assistances from India in the areas of capacity building, health, education, security and trade.

More Maldivian’s live in India than any other country outside of the Maldives. Trivandrum has become like a second home to many Maldivian’s. We purchase most of our essential goods from India similarly about thirty thousand Indians live and work in the Maldives, about thirty five thousand more Indians visits every year as tourists. Many Indian companies have found growing businesses in this country such businesses include; retail trade, import-export, electronics, banking, tourism, education and health care. Notable companies which have had successful presence include the state bank of India, the Taj Hotels and Resorts, Warf telecommunications, shri education, Kangaroo kids and so on.

Maldives will always welcome Indian investments, we need to benefit from the vast reservoir of ideals and capital Indian businesses have to offer. International businesses that have done well are those that are built on mutual trust and respect. Small countries like Maldives are like small businesses, vulnerable to external shocks, always self-conscious about security and easily manipulated by bigger partners. In addition as a nation state small countries are very conscious of their national pride and sovereignty. It is important that, we small countries invite large Multi-national Corporation’s we need to assure that our national interests are fully protected. Similarly the MNC’s must understand as small countries we are vulnerable, we have little bargaining power and especially as a country in transition, we are on a steep learning curve, it is when we become sensitive to each other’s concerns that we build a trusting and lasting friendship. It is not a secret that we are currently facing some difficulty with some Indian companies, we must overcome these difficulties and adamantly resist such difficulties from effecting our very close and brotherly relationship between our two countries.

In Maldives we should never question the relationship with India, we have and we must always appreciate and remain grateful to India, on numerous occasions we have benefited and continue to benefit from the wisdom and the generosity of the people and the leadership of India. The corporation we have in the field of security and defence and international relations are exemplary it remains solid and unshakable.

As we celebrate 47th Anniversary of diplomatic relations between Maldives and the Republic of India, I note with special gratitude India’s enduring and generous contribution to the development of Maldives and unwavering support in the pursuance of our international initiatives and interests.

I thank the Government of India for it’s continued support and collaboration, and reaffirm my commitment to work together in pursuance of common interests bilaterally and at the regional and global levels. I remain confident that our engagements will bring forth many opportunities for collaboration on issues of mutual concern, to work collectively to achieve peace, progress and stability in South Asia. This forum therefore presents us with an opportunity to thank India for her role as an enduring and supportive partner of the Maldives. I have no doubt that the traditional bonds of friendship and cooperation that we have enjoyed over the past four decades will continue to grow and expand in the years to come.

I also remain confident that these strong ties of friendship between our two countries will be fortified in the years to come, and look forward to further enhancing cooperation between our two Governments and peoples.

I wish continued peace, progress and prosperity for the friendly people of India. Let me take this opportunity, on behalf of the Government and the people of Maldives, to reiterate our deep appreciation of the Government and people of India and extend our sincere well wishes to His Excellency the President Pranab Mukherjee and His Excellency the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Government and people of India on the momentous occasion.

Thank you.