Maldives' President says "Maldives pursues an India first foreign policy" - Raajje News, 11 April 2016

President Abdulla Yameen has said that the security of Maldives is intimately linked with the security and of India, which is why “the Maldives pursues an India first foreign policy.”

The President made at the statement at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, India.

“…India is the most important friend of the Maldives. Relations between the Maldives and India are based on the cherished principles of mutual respect. Ties between the two countries are based in our civilizational roots, cultural and linguistic similarities and shared historical heritages. The Maldives and India share common perspectives on peace and stability in the South Asia and Indian Ocean region. That is why the Maldives pursues an India first foreign policy,” said the President.

He further said that the security of Maldives is intimately linked with the security and of India.

Noting that the Maldives looks at India “as the leader of SAARC,” President Yameen said he has no doubt that “under the leadership of PM Modi and PM Nawaz Sharif [of Pakistan], SAARC could be a much better place.”

President Yameen emphasized that “geopolitically SAARC can be an important force to reckon with, diplomatically and commercially, SAARC as a region can stand shoulder to shoulder with the European Union and the rest of the world.”

President Yameen said that the reason he visited PM Modi and India was to express his appreciation “for the very steadfast leadership India has shown in protecting Maldives in the CMAG deliberations.”

President Yameen had, back in March, credited India and Pakistan for Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) not placing Maldives on their agenda.

Noting that he had long conversations with the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan who spoke very kindly regarding the Maldives, President Yameen had said that representatives from India and Pakistan had strongly defended the Maldives at the CMAG meeting and that it was because of this action had not been taken against the Maldives.

Furthermore, President Yameen asked India “for continued support in preventing any unfair, any punitive action by the CMAG on the Maldives.”

Noting that “smaller countries are unfairly punished,” the President said that what the Maldivian government is trying to emulate is “what we are taught as democracy and diplomacy and upholding rule of law.”

“In our country, in all we follow due process, we try to uphold rule of law and without prejudice and passion we try to enforce laws in our country,” he said.

He further said that his government’s “sole purpose” in transforming Maldives’ economy to a modern economy which cherishes the aspirations of the youth.

Prior to the press conference, India and the Maldives signed six agreements in the fields of defence, tourism, taxation, space research, and conservation of mosques.

While President Yameen, today, claimed that India “India is the most important friend of the Maldives,” the recent tension between the two countries have not been a secret, especially because of “India’s discomfiture over China’s increasing investments and influence in the Indian Ocean region.”

The 2015 arrest and subsequent sentencing of former President Mohamed Nasheed added to the tension between Maldives and   India.

Due to these developments and increasing political tensions within the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi avoided a visit to the archipelago during his Indian Ocean Tour in 2015, despite the fact that President Yameen was among the SAARC leaders to have attended Modi’s swearing-in ceremony in May 2014.

High Commission of India Male, Maldives