The Maldives and Seychelles have agreed to combat piracy jointly, after two attacks in June off India’s Southern coast rang alarm bells for the two nations.
A protocol to combat piracy and other maritime security threats was signed during a meeting between Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed and Seychellois President James A. Michel.
Although Maldivian territorial waters have not come under direct attack so far by Somali pirates, the two incidents off India’s Southern coast have now raised fears over the country becoming a target.
In 2009, the archipelago of Seychelles was affected by piracy attacks taking a toll on the tourism sector.
And any such threat could prove lethal to the Maldives’ tourism —the backbone of its economy.
The United Nations too have expressed concerns over the Indian ocean territory becoming a battleground for piracy attacks.
In this backdrop the new protocol signed between the two countries on piracy is coming at a crucial time.
Piracy apart, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Fisheries Cooperation.
Maldivian Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem and Seychellois Foreign Minister Jean Paul Adam signed the two agreements.
Later in his weekly radio address President Nasheed said lessons from the Seychelles economy would be advantageous in implementing Maldives economic reform plans.
He cited service sectors, deep-sea fishing and tourism industries as areas the two countries can work.
Previously Maldivian Finance Minister Ahmed Inas too visited the Seychelles.
Following the tour he told the Asian Tribune that it was important for people to take ownership of the economic reforms – a lesson Inaz said he learnt from the Seychelles economy.
“People need to aware what is this economic reform is about and that it is not simply an IMF plan,” Inaz said then.
Following IMF recommendations, the Maldives has implemented spending cuts, including downsizing the civil service sector and their wages, among other austerity measures.