Plans for Addu Atoll to host the 17th summit meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) this year are said to be on schedule and will focus on the idea of “Building Bridges” between member states both in a physical and diplomatic sense.
At a meeting held today at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Male’, the government unveiled its main theme for the SAARC meeting: “Building Bridges” – both in terms of physical connectivity and figurative political dialogue. However, the ministry added that the notion of bridging differences would be represented as the overarching theme of the summit rather than any set diplomatic or development aims.
With the summit scheduled to run from November 10 to 11 later this year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that the Addu City convention centre currently being built to host the regional meeting was expected to be completed by September, with 90 per cent of the site’s concrete construction now in place.
In addressing members of the media today, President’s Office representative and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) youth arm president Shauna Aminath said that the Maldivian government – as part of SAARC – had been working with fellow member states to try and improve communication and collaboration throughout the region.
Shauna took the recent recommencement of ferry services between India and Sri Lanka after a thirty year hiatus as a physical example of the summit’s own aims to try and strengthen economic and diplomatic ties between different member nations for their mutual benefit and prosperity.
“The idea is to celebrate the differences that we have and use these to unite nations to build a better region. South Asia is specifically unique in that it is home to 100 different languages, ten different major religions and one fifth of the world’s population,” she said. “The Maldives is the lowest lying nation in the world, at the same time [fellow SAARC member] Nepal has the [planet’s] highest points. So these are differences, but we want to use these as an opportunity to celebrate as a united force to build bridges of friendship, peace and security.”