The Maldives will never do anything that threatens India's security, its President Mohamed Nasheed has said.
“India has always helped us in times of need. We will always be India's friend and we believe that we cannot find a better friend than India,” he said when asked if Sino-Maldivian cooperation could negatively impact on relations with India.
In an e-mail interview to The Hindu, ahead of the 17th SAARC summit in The Maldives, Mr. Nasheed said that to strengthen SAARC more economic integration in South Asia was needed. This meant more trade and investments among South Asian countries.
On the theme of the summit — building bridges — and the history of underachievement of the regional grouping, he said The Maldives wanted the South Asia Free Trade Agreement fully implemented. “We also want to boost connectivity between our countries. This includes improving communications, as well as transport links such as ferry services, railways and highways.”
On Maldives' biggest worry, the threat of climate change, he said the lack of progress on this vital “long-term security threat” was because the world approached it “in terms of cutting back. Nations are told to cut back their emissions. Developing countries find that very hard to stomach because politicians tend to view cutting back on emissions as cutting back on development. We should reframe our approach to climate change. Let us stop talking about cutting emissions and start talking about investments in clean technologies and renewable energy. In other words, rather than focus on the things we shouldn't do, let's focus on the things we should”.
For a start, this meant that developing countries should be given targets for investments in clean technologies. “Tackling climate change can then be seen as a way to grow and improve our economies. The Maldives has recently pledged to invest 2 per cent of national income on clean technologies and renewable energy. If SAARC countries invested similar amounts, it would give this region an edge in the clean tech economy of the future, boost economic growth, improve energy security and show tremendous leadership in tackling climate change,” he said.
On the threat from piracy, a compelling issue that some countries in the region face, he said the way to secure the Indian Ocean was to secure the Indian Ocean rim.
“I think we have to be honest about the problem and accept that the way to stop piracy in the Indian Ocean is to tackle its underlying cause, which is instability in Somalia,” he added.