The European Union (EU) launched a new project Sunday to support counter-terrorism efforts and prevent violent extremism in Maldives, under the EUR 2.5 million (MVR 43 million) allocated for EU-Maldives security cooperation.
According to the foreign ministry, the new counter-terrorism project will be implemented jointly with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and local stakeholders.
The project launch coincided with the First Senior Officials Meeting held between Maldives and EU in the island nation, which is a new mechanism for consultations established during Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid’s visit to Brussels in June 2019 to enhance EU-Maldives cooperation through yearly exchanges.
During the inaugural meeting, Maldives reiterated the request to waive visas for Maldivian nationals travelling to EU countries, and grant duty free access for Maldivian tuna products.
The discussions focussed on the areas of Governance, Democracy, Human Rights, Rule of Law, Prevention of Violent Extremism and Counter-Terrorism, and Economic and Trade Cooperation. The two delegations also held talks on Sectoral Cooperation in areas such as fisheries, environment, taxation reform, Schengen Visa facilitation, education, social development, and Regional/International Cooperation on issues such as climate change.
The parties asserted their interest in increasing cooperation on global challenges such as climate change and environmental issues. Noting the European Green Deal adopted by EU in December to become the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050, the Union highlighted the Financing Agreement of EUR 5 million (MVR 85.8 million) to support Maldives implement its Nationally Determined Contributions, and the EUR 45 million (MVR 771.6 million) loan by the European Investment Bank (EIB) to support renewable energy projects signed in 2019.
EU and Maldives further agreed to continue to facilitate trade and investment by European companies through the Business Roundtable initiative. The Union also expressed support for Maldives' efforts to strengthen democracy, promote and protect human rights, and further socio-economic development, adding that the EU is exploring avenues to support the island nation in reforming the judiciary and curb corruption.
The discussions were co-chaired by State Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Khaleel and Deputy Managing Director for Asia and Pacific, European External Action Service (EEAS) Paola Pampaloni.
During the EU delegation's visit, Deputy Managing Director Pampaloni also made courtesy calls on President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed, and sat down with various diplomats, and representatives from the civil society and political parties.