Amid concerns over piracy and terrorism, India expects the first summit of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) to come up with concrete ideas on ensuring peace and prosperity in the region.
Vice President Hamid Ansari, who is on a visit to the Indonesian capital Jakarta to attend the summit tomorrow, said there is a need to keep the maritime region, shared by 36 countries, free from piracy and terrorism, which are global phenomena and can pose a threat anywhere in the world.
Interacting with a group of journalists accompanying him on his two-day visit, Ansari said safety and security of the Indian Ocean maritime region, trade and investment, management of fisheries, tourism, disaster management and science and technology are some of the subjects which have been under consideration.
He said the blue economy has also emerged as a focus area on which India has taken a lot of initiatives.
“We expect that concrete ideas will emerge (from the Summit)…We hope there will be some outcomes,” said the Vice President, who will be addressing the meet of the 21-nation body on Tuesday.
Though the Indian Ocean is being shared by 36 nations, 21 countries have joined the Association so far.
“The most important thing is that for the (Indian Ocean) Rim countries to be able to cooperate with each other, they need safety and security. As you know, we have had in the western part of the Indian Ocean serious problems of piracy and terrorism,” he said.
“Not only that, we will move on to the blue economy which has huge potential but has barely been touched upon,” Ansari said.
On the seriousness of the piracy threat, he said, “for the moment it has been contained as far as Northern Arabian Sea region is concerned, thanks to very good international cooperation. But these are things which you have to guard against because terrorism is an international phenomenon and it surfaces in different parts of the world.”
At the summit, a declaration on countering violent extremism is expected to be adopted along with the IORA Concord and an action plan.
The Declaration on Preventing and Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism is an agreement of the IORA member states about the importance of countering terrorism.
With regard to the outcomes expected, Ansari referred to the IORA Concord likely to be adopted at the summit tomorrow.
The IORA Concord, also called Jakarta Concord, is a strategic document containing the vision and norms of the future of cooperation among the member countries with an aim of strengthening the regional architecture to face its challenges.
The IORA Action Plan is a document containing the implementation actions of the Jakarta Concord. It also strengthens the implementation of priority areas and cross-sectoral commitments.
The Association comprises India, Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. It also has seven Dialogue Partners the US, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Japan and the UK.
Giving a backdrop of the IORA formation, the Vice President said the idea developed as there were common areas of interest and concerns among the countries sharing the Indian Ocean.
So far, there have been only ministerial-level meetings and this is the first summit, he noted.
Rim associations of the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean have already existed and since the Indian Ocean is the third largest water body with 36 important countries sharing it, “obviously people feel the need for exchange of ideas and demarcation of areas of cooperation”, he said