South Asia is becoming more powerful and prominent than any other time in its history with booming economies, growing political influence and a stronger ability to shape the course of world affairs, President Mohamed Nasheed said yesterday.
Delivering his opening remarks at the inaugural session of the 17th SAARC Summit here in Addu yesterday, the President said the 21st century would be Asia's century.
"In short, I believe the future is ours to shape," he said.
"Our economies are booming. Our political influence is growing. And our ability has never been stronger. Our populations are youthful and energetic. Our thinkers, researchers and scientists are globally renowned. Our culture is internationally acclaimed. Our private sector companies are some of the world’s largest and most profitable."
President Nasheed stressed that the time has come for South Asia, which he said was earlier considered a sideshow in the theatre of global politics, to shine as it currently occupies the centre stage in global politics.
"We can only achieve [these] goals, if we work together… because our success, is dependent on our neighbour's success; economic stagnation in one part of our region, dampens prosperity in another; instability in one member state, causes insecurity for us all," he said.
The President told the the heads of state of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation member countries that the region can only make progress if the countries "integrate our economies, ensure our financial system is stable, and foster a political climate that creates confidence".
Despite the eight-member regional organisation's charter prohibiting the leaders to discuss internal issues of the countries at the summit, President Nasheed spoke on the relations between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan.
Eighteen months after the SAARC Summit held in Bhutan last year, India and Pakistan have held many positive discussions in order to compartmentalise their differences and find areas on which they can move forward, the President added.