SAARC Informal Meeting of Council of Minsiters
Dr Mohamed Asim, Minister of Foreign Affairs
21 September 2016
Honourable Foreign Ministers, Secretary-General of SAARC,
Assalaamu Alaikum and Good Afternoon,
As this is the first time I am addressing the Council as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Maldives, allow me to congratulate for the excellent work that you have been doing over the years, to promote regional cooperation in South Asia. I am confident that collective action within our region will bring great benefits for our people by enhancing development efforts and regional peace and security. I would also like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nepal for organizing this informal session of the Council of Ministers. It is essential to meet and discuss issues directed towards realizing the objectives of SAARC.
As a regional organization that represents a third of the world population, SAARC's relevance and importance cannot be stressed more. The diversity of which ranges from the lowest lying islands of the Maldives to the highest mountain in Nepal.
Yet, we have found a common goal – to promote peace, prosperity, and progress in the region. As we continuously seek to improve the lives of over a billion people, SAARC has diversified into newer areas of cooperation. Despite many challenges, the importance of this organization has in fact grown. It is for us, to make our work more effective, to keep it relevant and to move ahead with more vigor.
I am pleased to highlight on the important decisions from the last meeting of the Council in March this year, including the decision to establish the Environment and Disaster Management Center. The progress that we have made in the closer and merger process of the regional centers marks an important milestone in the ongoing reform process within SAARC. It is our hope that continued effort will be placed on enhancing the work of the remaining centers to drive them towards centers of excellence within the region. I am also pleased to note that Maldives has ratified the SAARC Framework agreement for energy cooperation that was signed during the Eighteenth SAARC Summit.
We have all achieved considerable advancements, more so in some areas than others. It is important to evaluate what SAARC has accomplished as a regional organization and identify our achievements as well as the challenges faced in the past years. We must move towards deepening our collaboration with the intention of promoting mutual trust, understanding and partnership.
At the eighteenth SAARC Summit, our leaders reiterated their commitment to review the progress and revisit the SAARC Plan of Action and its effective implementation, taking into account the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
Today, as we gather here, we mark one year since the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is imperative that progress we have made in realizing the Millennium Development Goals and the work towards 2030 Agenda for sustainable development are taken at the regional level to maximize many opportunities to compliment national and regional sustainable development efforts.
The Maldives was unable to host the Third Meeting of SAARC Education Ministers and eleventh Meeting of the Heads of University Grants Commission planned for this month due to lack of required quorum. We hope to announce fresh dates for these meetings soon.
As we move ahead with our programme of work, I wish to stress the importance of improved connectivity for enhanced cooperation, and deeper integration within the region. Liberalization of trade and realization of our true potential in this area will also come more naturally from greater connectivity. Time and again we have highlighted on the need for coordinated efforts in addressing climate change and the scourge of terrorism. These issues are not limited to any particular country or region and therefore require far greater effort from all members to address the concerns. Let me assure the full commitment of the Government of Maldives to members of SAARC and the organization as a whole, in the efforts to combat both climate change and international terrorism. As a region, we need to further strengthen efforts to tackle the challenges caused by these issues.
I am hopeful that by working together as an organization and through our mutual cooperation, we can meaningfully contribute towards improving the welfare and quality of life of our people in the SAARC region.