Distinguished Prime Minister of India, distinguished delegates of Indian delegation, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen;
On this New Year, let me extend felicitations from the people of Maldives to the people of India and also the leaders of India.
As you observed the first day of New Year I’m spending not with my people, I’m spending with India. The Indian hospitality since I arrived, since my delegation arrived yesterday, has been unparalleled.
India has always been there during times of call from Maldives. Maldives has relied on India for almost every need. Maldives has been assisted during the time of 1988 terrorist attack, mercenary attack. India has also assisted us during the time of tsunami.
If you look at this array of assistance that India has given us, it’s not only humanitarian, resource building also in terms of military and defense assistance. The trust we have on India, the commitment my Government gives to Indian Government. I would like to express strong support of our Government to maintaining Indo-Maldives relationship.
Indo-Maldives relationship is about to commemorate 50 glorious years of existence. During these 50 years we have learnt from each other, we have shown to the world, a country as diverse as India is, a country as great as India is, and a neighborly country as small as Maldives is, respecting mutual dignity, respecting the laws of each country and respecting sovereignty of each country. The relationship that exists with India and Maldives is indeed phenomenal. I think these are lessons neighboring countries may want to learn.
India has assisted Maldives in times of need as I have recalled earlier. But India continues to assist us in all areas of development. My visit to India yesterday is an accomplished visit. We have had a very healthy exchange of views, a very healthy exchange of issues. And I’m deeply satisfied that already, I’m proud to say that my visit, my delegation’s visit to India has been accomplished. We have exchanged several areas of interest – areas of interest to both countries, areas of interest to only Maldives. But in all these cases Indian Prime Minister, Indian Government, has extended to us Indian support.
I have come to India at a very difficult time to the Maldivian people. Maldivian economy at this point in time is impoverished. We have a daunting task ahead of us. We have ambitious programmes. I will be meeting for lunch the Indian commerce and industry entrepreneurs.
While I like to assure the corporate India the immense opportunities that exist for Indian entrepreneurs to come and invest in Maldives, I’m also mindful of the difficult times we have had with some of the Indian companies in the past.
As I exchanged with the Prime Minister just a while ago, we are willing to work out a mutually amicable solution. And it is our sincere hope that out of a partnership, both partners should be happy. That is the only way forward for any mutual, sustainable, economic cooperation.
I have come to India at a time of great need for Maldivian people. Anticipation from my visit is high. The enormity of tasks that lies ahead of my Government should be presented to the media, both Maldivian and India.
Having said that, I’m also happy that Indian authorities, especially the Indian Prime Minister, has expressed his readiness to support Maldives in every way possible. It is not only military exchanges. It is not only maritime security. Yes, we have agreed on those. We have commonalities; we have common interests in those. It is my belief, as is the belief of Indian Prime Minister that the maritime security of this region is of utmost importance to India, Maldives and the countries facing the Indian Ocean. So it would be best let two countries in this region to resolve these matters. So I have assured the Indian Prime Minister and the Indian Government that we share the views of Indian Government on this issue.
On the issue of conservatism, we are concerned as well. Maldives faced different challenges. Maldives is a resource-impoverished country. But Maldives has a great heart as well. Maldives has a trainable, young, educated workforce. It is my belief that the task entrusted to me by the Maldivian people during this election has been bringing one-off satisfaction to the Maldivian youth, who happen to employ over 52% of our population. So it is with this mission that I have come to my closest neighbor, India.
India has always extended its support to Maldives. We will be coming to India time and time again. The readiness on the part of Indian Government has been awesome. And I am sure, I am confident, that the Indo-Maldives relation is going to prosper in the future. We may have had rough patches in the past. But it is the commitment of my administration, the commitment of the council of Ministers that we look forward to a strong, healthy working relationship with the Indian enterprise.
Any enterprise between two Governments, between two people, necessarily can be successful only if there is connectivity and sincerity on the part of the two people. It is in this context that on my mission I have requested for people to people contact and to understand Indians more closely and for Indians to understand Maldivians more closely.
It is our desire, it is our want, to come to India. And similarly, likewise, we would like to reciprocate Indian hospitability to Indians who come to Maldives. So it is with this regard, with this on my mind, I have requested Indian authorities and graciously my cause has agreed to relax the visa difficulties we have.
When we look at inwards in to our own region, SAARC, we know this is a resource rich area. Over a billion people are inhibiting this part of the world. Leaders, economists, renowned politicians have come from this region. We would like India to show leadership in all of our SAARC endeavors. India has supported Maldives in our candidatures in international forums. We are reciprocating. I had confirmed my administration’s commitment to support all Indian candidatures.
We believe we have a bound destiny. We believe the kinship that exist between India and Maldives is there for a long long time to come. And it is our hope that this kinship is going to be a rewarding experience.
I fondly recall during the most difficult times, two years or so back during 2012, the troubled times we had domestically in the Maldives, India had come to our rescue at that time. India was the first country to acknowledge the legitimacy of the Government, the change of hands during that time. India had salvaged the Maldivian reputation and regime at that time.
India has always been mindful of Maldivians managing Maldivian internal politics. And we are particularly grateful for Indian authorities for the issue, for the stance taken on these matters. We have shown to the world, we have shown to the first world countries, what they have taught us in their universities can be best practiced in our domestic affairs by Maldivians. I think the international community should be mindful of this fact.
We have resourceful people. We have resourceful people who are dedicated to our cause. While we know that Maldives is a very small country, we would like all the countries who are big and small, who are close and not so close to treat us with dignity. India clearly has shown that India recognizes Maldives’ sovereignty. India has always been supportive of our stance.
We would like to show to the International community, that Maldives can manage their internal affairs just as much as those countries can manage their affairs. The only difficulty Maldives lands in is not in trying to manage their internal affairs. The only difficulty Maldives faces is in trying to manage its resources, we are a resource impoverished country. India has resources. India is a leading country in the developing world. India has resources not only natural. Human resources, expertise, and plenty of experience. So this is why we rely so heavily on India for support.
Indian support has always been forth coming. Wholeheartedly and magnanimously. And we are particularly appreciative of Indian support to us. While we had had slight differences in the past, my regime, my Government, my administration is committed to resolving all of these issues. We know that, we recall fondly that the relationship India-Maldives has cannot be matched by the relationship that we can have with any other country. So it is this assurance I would like to give to the friendly people, the fraternal people of India, as well as the Indian leadership.
We would like you to come to Maldives out of desire. Out of need as well. Things of learning in India is in abundance. We are a small country. We are a country that is deprived of resources. And that is why here again on this visit, I have reiterated my Government’s desire to the Indian authorities that visa regulations be relaxed and help us in human resource building. India has championed in human resource building in health sector, also education sector.
Today we have signed three importance agreements. Two in the field of health cooperation and the other one is testimony to the great diplomatic relations we have. We two countries, we two Governments, have agreed to extend plots of land where chanceries can be built. What more symbol, what more monument can be there for lasting diplomatic relations between two countries. And it is our sincere hope, it is my sincere hope that these chanceries are built soon and that their work would be forthcoming our relationship.
As I said earlier, my trip to India had already been accomplished. I had come with a long shopping list and I had not been disappointed. My delegation has not been disappointed. I happily note that Indian Prime Minister and the Indian delegation has very generously extended all the support, for which I have come. My people are enthusiastic for what I will be bringing back from India to them.
In times of need as I had said earlier, India has always been there for us. Yes, we had agreed on a standby credit facility. India has very graciously agreed to relieve some of the most difficult, most challenging problems at this point in time. Here we are talking at immediate term problems. Like the energy crisis. India has very kindly agreed to consider and look at the possibility of providing petroleum products from Bharat Petroleum Company close to Maldives. This is going to tremendously help our economy. This is going to improve our balance of payment problems and this is going to tremendously bring down the cost of energy in Maldives. Maldivian economy is propelled by energy. Maldivian debt is largely, petroleum is largely responsible for Maldivian debts. So I hope the generous assistance that India has given, even if you take just one particular area alone, in the area of petroleum area alone itself, my trip justified why I am here in India on the first day of a new year.
In conclusion, while I reiterate the confidence in the Indian authorities in helping Maldives at all times as they have done in the past, as we commemorate fifty years of an extended very cordial relationship it is my sincere hope, and it has been the hope expressed by the Prime Minister just a while ago to me, we will continue to hold this very dear, very cherished relationship. India can help us in many areas. Not diplomatically only. Resource building, human resource building, manpower building, capacity building all of these areas.
When I meet with the Indian business community this afternoon at lunch, it will be my pleasure to invite Indian enterprises to Maldives. So we are looking forward to having a very extended Indo-Maldives relationship. We hope that this relationship is going to stay for several more years to come.
As a popular vocalist has said, in times of need friends are there for each other. What are friends for? In times of need, in sickness and in health, India Maldives relationship is going to prosper. I wish you all a very good year and I wish the Indo-Maldives relationship an excellent brilliant future. And I am concluding by inviting the Indian Prime Minister. Please give me an opportunity to reciprocate the hospitality you had extended to me and my delegation. And I look forward to receiving the Indian Prime Minister on Maldivian soil.
Thank you very much!