The Maldives participated in the Council of Ministers of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) for the first time on Thursday, since the island nation's membership was approved in November 2018.
Representing Maldives at the 19th Council, being held in Abu Dhabi, is Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid, who delivered a statement thanking IORA member states for accepting Maldives' application and assured the archipelago's commitment to upholding the principles and objectives of the IORA Charter.
In his address, the foreign minister noted the strategic importance of regional cooperation to Maldives given its proximity to key maritime trade routes in the Indian Ocean.
Minister Shahid declared that priority areas for IORA such as blue economy, the economic empowerment of women, fisheries management, maritime safety and security, and trade and investment were important priorities for Maldives as well.
Highlighting that maritime safety and security, and addressing non-traditional threats in the Indian Ocean such as Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, terrorism, and trafficking in persons and arms were of serious concern to Maldives, the minister assured that the government would cooperate more closely with regional countries to find sustainable and practical solutions.
Further stating that the shared vision and the need to collaborate amongst member states of IORA are fundamental to establishing peace, security and stability in the Indian Ocean, Minister Shahid emphasised that regional unity and prosperity should be the underlying factor determining the deliberations within IORA.
Prior to the Council meeting, Minister Shahid signed the Instrument of Acceptance, formalising the membership of Maldives by becoming IORA’s 22nd member state.
In addition to Minister Abdulla Shahid, the delegation of Maldives at the IORA include Ambassador of Maldives to the UAE Dr Hussain Niyaaz, the foreign ministry's Additional Secretary Amin Javed Faizal, and officials from the Embassy of Maldives to the UAE.
Based in Mauritius, IORA is an intergovernmental regional organisation established in 1997, currently comprising of 22 member states. Maldives applied to become a member IORA in 2017, and the membership was approved during the 18th Council of Ministers in 2018.