Colombo, October 11: In his remarks to the media on the sidelines of the Indian Ocean Rim Association’s Council of Ministers meeting held at Colombo on Wednesday, the Indian External Affairs Minister Dr.S.Jaishankar obliquely warned against China’s machinations in the Indian Ocean Region.
“Our commitment to the IORA is deeply rooted in the principles of peaceful coexistence, shared prosperity, and regional collaboration. For Member States to grow and prosper, development challenges must be continuously and effectively addressed. In particular, we should cooperate on various aspects of the maritime economy, resources, connectivity and security. “
“We should be equally clear where the dangers are, be it in hidden agendas, in unviable projects or in unsustainable debt. Exchange of experiences, sharing of best practices, greater awareness and deeper collaboration are part of the solutions,” he said in a thinly veiled allusion to China.
Here is the full text of his statement:
Friends from the Media,
A very good afternoon to all.
It’s a great pleasure to be back in Colombo. This time to attend the 23rd Meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers, during which, as you heard, India assumed the role of Vice-Chair.
Let me begin by congratulating Sri Lanka on assuming the Chairship of IORA for the term 2023-25. I also express my appreciation to Bangladesh for its very able leadership of IORA as its Chair in 2021-23. The three of us from this region now constitute the troika and I’m very confident that our traditional cooperation will serve IORA well in the coming days.
Our common objective is to promote greater prosperity in the region and of making the Indian Ocean a free, open and inclusive space, based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) as the Constitution of the Seas.
We will continue to progress in that regard. India’s commitment to the well-being and progress of nations of the Indian Ocean, including as first responder and a net security provider, is based on our Neighbourhood First policy, on the SAGAR outlook, and on our approach to the extended neighbourhood as well. It also draws on our broader vision of an Indo-Pacific that is built on a rules-based international order, rule of law, sustainable and transparent infrastructure investment, freedom of navigation and over-flight, and sincere respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. At the initiative of India, IORA’s outlook on the Indo-Pacific was adopted by the 22nd Council of Ministers’ meeting. We will again endeavour to give it practical shape in the days ahead.
The Indian Ocean is not only a significant body of water but also a crucial economic and strategic corridor, playing a key role in the development and prosperity of the nations around it and beyond it. India’s message of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ or ‘the world is one family’ can act as a binding force for IORA Member States. The IORA brings together 23 member states, including India, with a shared goal of harnessing the immense potential of this region for the benefit of all. India, with its extensive coastline, maritime interests, and historical ties, fully appreciates the importance of fostering collaboration and dialogue in the Indian Ocean.
Our commitment to the IORA is deeply rooted in the principles of peaceful coexistence, shared prosperity, and regional collaboration. For Member States to grow and prosper, development challenges must be continuously and effectively addressed. In particular, we should cooperate on various aspects of the maritime economy, resources, connectivity and security.
We should be equally clear where the dangers are, be it in hidden agendas, in unviable projects or in unsustainable debt. Exchange of experiences, sharing of best practices, greater awareness and deeper collaboration are part of the solutions.
Responding to the key concerns of the Global South, highlighted through our G20 Presidency, will further empower IORA. I particularly flag Nari Shakti or women-led development, the democratisation of technology through Digital Public Infrastructure, and Prime Minister Modi’s vision of LiFE or “Lifestyle for Environment” in this regard. I would also stress the importance of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) in addressing the challenges that IORA member-states face.
India views the IORA as a platform for promoting sustainable development, economic growth and prosperity, and stability in the region. As the Vice-Chair of IORA, India will work on consolidating and streamlining efforts to promote cooperation in the realms of the 6 priority areas and 2 cross-cutting themes of the IORA, with particular emphasis on maritime safety and security, and blue economy. We seek to engage our fellow member states and partners to develop mutually beneficial initiatives.
As the Vice-Chair of IORA, the apex regional body of this Region, India will work towards further strengthening the regional identity and cooperation among IORA Member States, Dialogue Partners, and for the well-being and prosperity of the Indian Ocean community.