Cape Town [South Africa], November 25: Expressing his view on recent developments in India-Maldives ties, former president Mohamed Nasheed said the future of the island country lies with an ever-stronger relationship with India and he believes the new government will understand its intricacies.
“We had presidential elections and there is a new government. This new government will follow a different foreign policy. I can’t see how that can change our relationship with India. I do know that there was some rhetoric asking Indian troops in the Maldives to leave but I don’t think this is the path from which the people of the Maldives would benefit. I believe the new government will come to understand the intricacies of this,” Nasheed told.
However, Nasheed also said that he sees it as an opportunity for the Indian establishment to establish stronger links with the new government as well.
The former Maldives president highlighted the importance of India, saying, “For our safety and security, India is paramount. We are a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. There are pirates and drug dealers. I must also mention that China is on the rise; it has a strong interest in having a bigger foothold in the Indian Ocean. We will have to be very diplomatic about how we go about our relations with all countries but we have to understand that India is our neighbour, it is there to stay and it is next door. We had an excellent relationship for thousands of years and I’m sure it will continue.”
Nasheed also endorsed India as the voice of the Global South, calling it a leader that other countries should follow.
“We have our views in our development efforts and depend not just on Western views in our development efforts but also in our development thoughts,” he added.
On November 18, Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu met Union Minister of Earth Sciences Kiren Rijiju and “formally requested” the Indian government withdraw its military personnel from the Maldives.
Kiren Rijiju, who attended the swearing-in ceremony of Mohamed Muizzu, paid “a courtesy call” on the Maldives President at the President’s Office on Saturday.
“At the meeting, President Muizzu had formally requested the Government of India to withdraw its military personnel from the Maldives. The President noted that at the Presidential Election held in September, the Maldivian people had given him a strong mandate to make the request to India and expressed the hope that India will honour the democratic will of the people of the Maldives,” a statement from the Maldives President’s Office said.
“While discussing the matter with Minister Kiren Rijiju, President Muizzu also acknowledged the significant role of the two helicopters in providing numerous emergency medical evacuations,” the statement added.
It said that Rijiju conveyed his best wishes to the President, representing the sentiments of the Government and the people of India.
“The Minister expressed his aspiration to foster a constructive relationship with the Maldives, acknowledging the presence of a vibrant Indian community residing in the Maldives,” the statement said.
India has said that its cooperation with the Maldives is based on jointly addressing shared challenges and priorities.
MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said last month at a media briefing that the assistance and platforms that India has provided have significantly contributed to areas like people’s welfare, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and combating illegal maritime activities in the Maldives.