President Yameen calls on SAARC to make its voice heard

President Abdulla Yameen has called upon the SAARC nations to “walk the talk” and make their voice heard on the international stage.

“As a region, SAARC has the right, and surely has the might, to make it one of the most powerful regions in the world. Yet we continue to be led, rather than lead,” Yameen told the inaugural session of the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu.

“This region accounts for one-quarter of the world’s population, yet as a region we hold limited sway, have limited say and we have not been heard enough, in the power rooms of the world.”

Despite the association’s charter calling for meetings at least once a year, the two-day summit is the first to be convened since 2011, when the Maldives hosted the event in Addu City.

Following the meeting of SAARC leaders at the inauguration of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May – dubbed the ‘mini SAARC summit’ by the Indian media – led to the reactivation  of the meetings.

Since assuming office, Modi has actively pursued regional cooperation, with his ‘neighbourhood first’ policy being applauded by President Yameen today.

“We are inspired, Excellency, by your various initiatives, in this short period of time, towards strengthening regional relationships including the ‘neighbourhood first’ policy. These are steps in the right direction, a signal of the renewed activism with which India is facing SAARC,” said Yameen.

Other initiatives of the Modi government have included a firmer commitment to improving ties within Asia – dubbed the ‘Look East’ policy.

At home, President Yameen has also recently declared a foreign policy shift to the East after accusing “Western colonial powers” of attempting to interfere with the sovereignty of the Maldives.

During the same speech on Republic Day (November 11) Yameen noted that the rapidly growing ties with China did not involve “any such compulsion”.

China’s increased involvement in the region appears to have invoked the concern of India, who reacted firmly to rebut suggestions made by the Maldives’ foreign minister this month that India had discussed joining China’s New Silk Road project.

India was also reported to have rebuffed suggestions from Pakistan during this week’s summit to promote China from its current observer status within SAARC.

“As far as we are concerned, we need to first deepen cooperation among Saarc (members) before we try and move horizontally,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told media.

Continuing his speech this morning, President Yameen repeated his view that trade and commerce were the key to peace and prosperity within the region.

“SAARC must attune itself to the realities of the day and seize the opportunities that are presented to us. We must not be left behind.”

Yameen also stated that, despite being one of the regions to be worst affected by climate change, “we continue to be complacent in taking action as a group”.

He pointed out that, as the next chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, the Maldives would expect support from its friends.

“I ask you, should we not demand for what we want? Should we not stand up for what we believe? Dare we not speak up for what is right for our people? Is it not time, Excellencies, that we stand up to receive our share, raise our voice, in the international arena?”



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6 thoughts on “President Yameen calls on SAARC to make its voice heard”

  1. The hypoctrite of Maldives. Is he doing talk the walk or walk the talk? He himself is not sure about his foreign or domestic policies. One day he say Tax is bad but now decide to raise tax on staples for the poor. One day he say he support "neighbour first" policy, next day says that he is headed eastwards for the good democracy & Islam in China. Junior Gayoom is a complete nonsense guy.

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  2. SAARC: a totally irrelevant body.

    Yes, it does contain 25% of the world population, but most of that are ignorant or just stampeded upon by corrupt power hungry zealots. Democracy only exists in name, even in the supposedly "biggest democracy" in the world.

    As for looking East and China, the reason why China doesn't "demand" anything is because China is in no position to do so. Its poor human rights record as well as single party authoritarian rule is hardly a model where demands can be made upon others. However, that doesn't stop China from effectively colonising those places where it invests in heavily. Just look at the SEZs of South East Asia.

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  3. SAARC is a waste of time consisting, apart from India and Sri Lanka, of small and insignificant countries with zero rated economies and no political clout. The SAARC conferences are just an excuse for regional members to have a foreign holiday at tax payer's expense.
    The members of this not so exclusive club reads like a list of Z listers at a society bash.....Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and Maldives!! See what I mean?
    India which accounts for 80% of the SAARC nations economy should opt out of this boring club.

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  4. SAARC Summit: View from Katmandu.

    All the previoulsy Yameen bashing staff at Foreign Ministry (minus leader Dr Shaheed) obediently following the new master.

    How politics change people.... LOL

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  5. @MissIndia New Delhi is so right, as always

    The mighty India cannot do anything but just stick with small timers like Afganistan, Bhutan Maldives
    Shows how the big lacks good leadership

    Sad

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