The Maldivian High Commissioner to India, Abdul Azeez Yusuf has said that the spirit of cooperation between India and Maldives had never been affected and that both countries share a close connection of 'brotherhood'.
Speaking to Maldivian media currently in India to cover the President’s visit to the country, Azeez said that Maldives and India had been bound by diplomatic relations since 1974, which is the year in which a Maldivian official first visited India on an official trip. As an official representative from the Maldives, Prime Minister Ahmed Zaki visited India in 1974.
“Since then, relations between both nations have been strong. I believe that India being a neighboring country and also as an emerging super power, the Maldivian government would think of the benefits it can reap from maintaining healthy bi-lateral relations, which is improving day by day,” he said.
Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, who had recently visited the Maldives on two separate occasions to facilitate discussion to find ways to bridge the political differences through dialogue, received criticism by some Maldivian political parties who accused the Indian government of interfering in the domestic affairs of the country, which according to the Commissioner saddened the Indian government.
“The Indian government was saddened at the accusations because they had no such intention. It is disappointing that anyone should assume so. Bi-lateral relations between two nations are composed of mutual respect for each nation’s independence, peace and domestic matters. This means that no nation will meddle in another nation’s domestic matters. The Foreign Secretary talked of facilitating dialogue between all political parties and depending on the outcome to provide any assistance India could to settle the matters plaguing us. He wasn’t imposing any terms on us,” he stressed.
He said that India was the first country to lend assistance to Maldives after the transition of power on the 7th of February 2012 when the then Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik was sworn in as President.
“India has always considered such incidents (current political upheaval) and other similar incidents as internal affairs. India has a very responsible policy for dealing with its neighbours. India recognizes the importance of us, the SAARC countries working together as one body and to acquire development through the brotherly bonds which bind the countries. Opposition and criticism was never considered by the Indian government as a policy at any time,” Azeez said.
“India was the first country to offer assistance to the Maldives upon Dr. Mohamed Waheed being sworn in as President and was also amongst the first countries to recognize the new government as legit and to request a formal state visit (by President Waheed),” he added.
The High Commissioner also said that Maldives is lucky to have India as a neighboring country as it the largest democracy and also one of the emerging new super powers of the world.
“Hence I believe that the first trip abroad by the President should be to India,” he said.
Ambassador Azeez said that the relationship between the two countries is so strong that interactions take place between both countries without signing a proper agreement.
“The agreements follow, but we do not have to delay the deals for the agreement to be put into effect,” Azeez noted.
He said that the President would not discuss the political issues at hand with the Indian government on his visit and that the purpose of his trip is to strengthen diplomatic ties between both nations.
President Waheed met with the Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai last night and will be meeting with the Indian Prime Minister and the Indian Defence Advisor today.