Statement by Foreign Minister Shahid at the Joint Press Conference with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Türkiye

30 January 2022

Your Excellency, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Türkiye, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu members of the Turkish delegation; members of the media,

As-salamu alaykum and Good afternoon.

It has been an honour and a privilege, Minister, to welcome you and your delegation, and host you, here in the Maldives, today. Your visit, today, marks an important milestone in our 42-year long bilateral relations.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1979, this is the first time, that a Foreign Minister of Türkiye has undertaken an official visit to the Maldives.

This is a reflection of the success of the new foreign policy initiative of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, to renew and expand our bilateral and multilateral outreach, and reinvigorate ties with the international community.

For the last four decades, the Maldives and Türkiye have continued to closely cooperate and share views on issues of mutual interest; both bilaterally and in the multilateral fora.

Your visit to the Maldives; and the discussions we have held here today, marks the beginning of a new chapter in our illustrious history together.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This morning, Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu called on President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and exchanged views on our bilateral relations. He will also be calling on the Speaker of the People’s Majlis, President Mohamed Nasheed, following this press conference.

During our official talks, Minister Çavuşoğlu and I had the pleasure of discussing a number of thematic areas; this included discussions on enhancing the existing strong bilateral relations in a multitude of areas, such as education, youth and sports, health, tourism, fisheries and agriculture, environment and climate change, economic cooperation, and counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation.

We also concluded 5 key agreements today, which is aimed at expanding our bilateral ties further, and add momentum to the constructive discussions on development cooperation. I expressed my deepest appreciation to Minister Çavuşoğlu and the Government of Türkiye for the conclusion of these important agreements and for working tirelessly to take our bilateral relationship to new heights.

The Agreement on Cultural Cooperation that was signed today will strengthen the existing cultural ties between Maldives and Türkiye, and pave the way for further cooperation in cultural development especially in the fields of arts, traditions and cultural heritage.

I am also confident that we will be able to identify new areas of economic cooperation, and diversify the trade links between the Maldives and Türkiye through the Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation, that was signed today. Under this agreement, a Maldives – Türkiye Joint Economic Commission will be established to bolster efforts for trade and economic cooperation.

Additionally, the MoU in the Field of Environment will solidify our joint efforts, towards protection and improvement of the environment, and on environmental sustainability with a balanced approach on protection and use of the ecosystem.

We also signed an MoU on Agricultural Cooperation that will help improve the livelihoods of the local communities through exchange of experience on agriculture and sustainable rural development.

Lastly, Minister Çavuşoğlu and I also concluded an MoU for Cooperation between the Diplomacy Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Türkiye and the Foreign Service Institute of the Maldives today. I am confident that this MoU will assist us reach the Maldives’ overarching goal of building a professional Foreign Service cadre in the Maldives through diplomatic trainings and exchange of information and documentation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The visit of Minister Çavuşoğlu and Türkiye’s commitment to engage with the Maldives, clearly signals the goodwill that Minister Çavuşoğlu, and the Government holds towards the people of the Maldives. Türkiye has always remained a close friend and a reliable partner of the Maldives. This is evident from the visit of President Erdoğan to the Maldives, during his term in office as Prime Minister, in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami – this was the first ever official visit by a high-level official of Türkiye, to the Maldives.   During my discussions with Minister Çavuşoğlu, I noted with appreciation the existing e-visa arrangement for Maldivians to travel to Türkiye and proposed the establishment of a visa free regime between the Maldives and Türkiye, for ease of travel, and for greater people to people contact between the two countries. I am delighted to note that the Government of Türkiye has agreed to sign an agreement on visa free travel to Türkiye. I thank Minister Çavuşoğlu and the Government of Türkiye for this decision and am confident that this will further enhance the already close relations between our two countries.

The Maldives and Türkiye’s bond has grown stronger with Türkiye’s contribution to the socio-economic development of the Maldives. During my discussions with Minister Çavuşoğlu, I requested the support of Türkiye for the establishment of an Islamic Centre in Hulhumale’.

I am also pleased to note that the request has been received positively by the Government of Türkiye that we will receive the support of Türkiye for this project. This Islamic Centre will be a beacon of hope, of Islamic unity, and a symbol of the perpetual relations between the Maldives and Türkiye. Given the expertise of Türkiye in this field, I have no doubt that this important project will greatly benefit from your assistance.

I also discussed the current development priorities of the Maldives, including the ongoing ‘National Apprenticeship Programme’. I requested the support of Türkiye for this landmark programme, designed to facilitate practical learning opportunities for the Maldivian youth. The successful implementation of this programme will result in increased participation of young women in skilled areas and reduce youth unemployment in the Maldives.

Ladies and Gentleman,

The on-going COVID-19 pandemic has proven that our common challenges must be addressed by working together. With new and emerging threats to global peace and security on the rise, we must voice our solidarity and engage in meaningful discussions to navigate through these challenges.

I am happy to note that Maldives and Türkiye collaborate and continue to support each other on important multilateral initiatives at the United Nations and especially within the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on issues of importance to the Islamic Ummah. Maldives recognises the key role of Türkiye in these organisations and on behalf of the Government of the Maldives, I express my profound gratitude to the Government of Türkiye for its exemplary leadership.

Davetimi kabul edip Maldivlere resmi ziyaret gerçekleştirdiği ve iki ülke arasındaki ilişkilerin daha da gelişmesi yönündeki çabaları için Bakan Çavuşoğlu'na teşekkürlerimi sunuyorum. İnanıyorum ki yakın dostluğumuz ve işbirliğimiz, gelecekte de devam edecektir.

(I thank Minister Çavuşoğlu once again for accepting my invitation and undertaking this official visit to the Maldives, and for his keen interest to further strengthen the relationship between our two countries. I am confident that our close cooperation and friendship will continue to flourish. Thank you.)