H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed: Challenges during COVID-19 resulted in the world working together to achieve prosperity and development

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has emphasised that the challenges faced by the world during the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in the importance of working together within international and regional multilateral organisations, such as the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) to achieve prosperity, overcome obstacles, and to advance the development agenda.

He stated this while speaking at the 20th meeting of the IORA Council of Ministers which was hosted virtually by the UAE. Sheikh Abdullah welcomed, on behalf of the UAE and the Indian Ocean Rim Association, the ministers and heads of participating delegations.

He also extended thanks to the TROIKA and the Secretariat for their hard work and support since the UAE assumed Chairship of the IORA in November 2019. “To the esteemed ministers of the Republic of Bangladesh, our Vice Chair, and the Republic of South Africa, our immediate past Chair, thank you.” Sheikh Abdullah said, “I had hoped to welcome you in person to the UAE. However, due to the exceptional circumstances brought about by COVID-19, we must meet virtually. I am very pleased that the IORA has managed to sustain momentum within its core initiatives during the past year, and all member states have worked together in the face of common challenges during this difficult time.

“In cooperation with the member states and dialogue partners, the UAE was able to employ virtual platforms to host extraordinary and routine meetings. This enabled the Association to advance its engagement with prospective dialogue partners and the member states, ensuring that IORA remains an inclusive and welcoming organisation,” he added.

He noted, “While commending our remarkable resilience throughout this difficult time, I must emphasize that there is still much important work to be done as we continue together down the road to recovery. I recall today our Chairship theme of ‘Promoting a Shared Destiny and Path to Prosperity in the Indian Ocean’, which is more relevant than ever.”

“The challenges we face have only strengthened the importance of multilateralism and organizations such as the IORA. We must work together to achieve prosperity, overcome obstacles, and advance our development agenda,” Sheikh Abdullah underlined.

He reaffirmed, “Today, we meet again to develop new, constructive solutions to the Indian Ocean Rim’s various challenges whether they are in maritime safety and security, trade and investment facilitation, or new areas such as public health.”

Sheikh Abdullah noted, “To support these efforts, and to strengthen the role of the Association in narrowing the gap between the advanced economies and least developed countries of the IORA, the UAE looks forward to member-state support in finalising the design of the IORA Human Development Fund, which was announced by the UAE as it assumed Chairship of the Association a year ago.” He indicated that the UAE believes that the IORA Human Development Fund can play a key role as an accelerator and enabler of the Association’s agenda in the coming years.”

“In closing, and before I hand over to Ahmed Al Sayegh as Chair, I would like to once again thank you for your tireless work within the IORA, and wish you productive discussions throughout today’s meetings,” he said in conclusion.

After his speech, Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Minister of State, presided over the 20th meeting of the IORA Council of Ministers.

In his speech, Al Sayegh said, “Over the next 12-months, IORA has a chance to do just that. As we complete the 2017 to 2021 Action Plan and embark on the drafting of a new Action Plan, I encourage member states to strongly consider the need for high-level, practical, and achievable goals that can guide the IORA and empower it to reach its full potential. Only through this guiding document can we enhance our cooperation, coordination, and planning.”

He added that in line with this, “I must thank my TROIKA counterparts and the Secretariat, who have focused diligently on building the IORA’s institutional strength in a manner that ensures it can carry out its mandate more effectively.”

“It has been a year since the UAE assumed Chairship of the IORA, and much has changed in that time. As we continue to address the challenge of a global pandemic, the UAE is deeply appreciative of the cooperative response of all member states and dialogue partners of the IORA,” he indicated.

The UAE Minister of State noted, “In particular, I would like to acknowledge the unprecedented virtual meeting of the Committee of Senior Officials and Dialogue Partners, which was convened to discuss the impact of the pandemic, and ways to strengthen cooperation within Indian Ocean region. This led to the first-ever intercessional Joint Statement, emphasising IORA Solidarity and Cooperation in Response to COVID-19.” Al Sayegh indicated, “I must emphasise that as we continue to overcome the challenges brought about by the pandemic, it is essential that we continue to focus on the vital need to maintain the stability of the Indian Ocean. Although the threat of piracy has receded in recent years, we must redouble our efforts to find solutions to emerging threats such as illegal, unregulated, and unreported fisheries. Already a critical conduit for trade, commerce, and energy, these vital sea routes still have vast untapped potential in facilitating maritime trade and investments, as well as increasing connectivity within the region. Only in a stable Indian Ocean, can we come together to share in the prosperity afforded by the blue economy.” He reaffirmed, “As we have much to attend today, I would like to keep my remarks brief. However, before we move forward with today’s business, I would like to reiterate that the UAE looks forward to continuing its close cooperation with the member states and dialogue partners of the IORA over the next 12 months of its Chairship.

“Finally, I would like to commend the outcomes of the meeting of the Committee of Senior Officials and to thank all the participants for their efforts. I wish you all the best during the 20th meeting of the IORA Council of Ministers, and I am confident that we can work together to find solutions to common challenges and to make positive progress in fulfilling IORA’s broader regional goals,” he said in conclusion.

At the end of the meeting, the application submitted by the Republic of France to IORA was approved, and thus, France has become the twenty third member state of IORA.


Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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