President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has said that the Maldives believed SAARC requires reforming, and that reform has constantly featured on SAARC’s agenda ever since President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s call for reform during the Male’ Summit of 1997. The President made this remark while speaking at the Inauguration of the Thirty-Fifth Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers, held this morning at Bandos Island Resort and Spa.
The President noted that SAARC processes and mechanisms have become complex over the years. He pointed out that SAARC had to widen its areas of cooperation to match the expectations of the peoples in the region, and highlighted the concerns that have risen as a result.
Speaking in this regard, the President said that the Maldives accorded special attention to the Secretariat’s Comprehensive Study of SAARC mechanisms and processes. He assured that the Maldives would continue to put emphasis in deepening cooperation in the identified areas of focus, making SAARC an instrument for building regional resilience, and increasing the Association’s international relevance.
In his speech, President Yameen said that now was the time for SAARC to help the peoples of the region in their march towards their manifest destiny. He also said that it was the time the Member States of SAARC gave meaning to the lofty goals set out in the Charter, and focus towards building our national and collective self-reliance.
Highlighting the establishment of SAARC in 1985, the President noted that the founders’ vision originated on the notion that regional cooperation was mutually beneficial, desirable, and necessary. He underlined that SAARC had expanded into many fields, which had contributed to building confidence and trust among the top leadership of our countries.
In his speech, the President emphasised the significance of trade and commerce for SAARC to achieve its goals.
“Commerce unlocks the doors to each other’s countries, and cultivates closer ties of mutual understanding. Business transactions foster good neighbourly relations through the sharing of goods and values. Trade and investment derive mutual benefits and improves the collective resilience of the region. Trade is the master key to turn poverty into prosperity”, said the President.
President Yameen assured that as the Chair of SAARC, the Maldives would continue with its efforts in keeping economic cooperation as the centre of focus of SAARC. Noting that it was high time the Member States of SAARC forged more common positions on critical issues of importance, the President stated that SAARC as a regional bloc, held limited powers in the global arena.
The President said, “It is time that we, as a region, stand up to demand our worth in the international arena. It is time that we stand up for each other, protect each other, and fight the cause for each other. It is time that we show the world the solidarity of SAARC.”