The European Union (EU) is an integral development partner of the Maldives, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid stated last Wednesday at the commencement of the sixth annual Maldives-EU Policy Dialogue.
Minister Shahid said that Maldives and the EU have maintained a solid relationship since diplomatic ties were established in 1993. He acknowledged the EU's continued assistance to the Maldives, and thanked them for their support over the last 29-years.
The Maldives' Foreign Minister particularly noted EU's assistance during the 2004 tsunami and the more recently, during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This year's policy dialogue between Maldives and the EU will focuses on five key areas, which include:
- Democracy, governance and strengthening the justice sector;
- Security cooperation;
- Economic cooperation, trade, investment, finance and tourism;
- Environment protection and climate change;
- Schengen Visa
At the conference, Minister Shahid highlighted some of the incumbent government's achievements, including the implementation of the Evidence Act in an effort to improve Maldives' judiciary, and the government's decision to allocate 33 percent of local council seats to women to increase women's representation in the government. He also mentioned Maldives' recent international achievements: Foreign Minister Shahid was elected President of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), and last month Maldives was elected as one of 14 member states to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the term 2023-2025.
Ambassador of the EU to the Maldives Denis Chaibi praised Shahid's leadership as the President of the 76th UNGA and Maldives' representation at the COP27 conference held earlier this month. Chaibi noted that Maldives competed against larger nations for a seat at the UN Human Rights Council, and congratulated Maldives for securing the seat.
Chaibi also reaffirmed the importance of strengthening security cooperation, especially in counterterrorism in the Maldives as millions of tourist enter the Maldives every year. The EU launched its new EUR 2 million counter-terrorism project in the Maldives on the margins of the dialogue, focused on criminal justice, law enforcement, maritime security and prison management, according to a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry.