President Nasheed addresses the SAARC summit

During his first speech to South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) leaders at the sixteenth SAARC Summit in Bhutan, President Mohamed Nasheed called on his fellow leaders to review the effectiveness of SAARC.

He said South Asia is one of the most dynamic and important regions in the world, and all countries must be prepared for both challenges and opportunities in the future. For the benefit of all members, he said, SAARC member countries must increase cooperation.

One of the regions the president noted to be of great importance was green investment and development.

The president said South Asia could become a testing ground for innovative green technologies, research in renewable energy and new forms of sustainable development.

He called for member states to establish a Low-Carbon Research and Development Centre in the proposed South Asian University.

Speaking on democracy and human rights, President Nasheed expressed content that South Asia “is now a region of democracies,” but added there were many challenges ahead in consolidating democracy and strengthening human rights.

The president proposed a regional human rights mechanism, to help South Asian countries promote and protect the rights of their citizens.

President Nasheed noted South Asia was badly affected by the global food and energy crisis, and supported the proposal to jointly import crude oil to the region, saying it would increase energy security and would improve a bargaining position in the world market.

He added fostering inter-cultural exchange, especially amongst the youth of the region, was of high importance.

President Nasheed then called for a meeting between India and Pakistan.

The summit marks the 25th anniversary since the formation of SAARC in Bangladesh in 1985.