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Opening Remarks by Prime Minister at Summit of Forum for India Pacific Island Countries in Jaipur (August 21, 2015)

August 21, 2015

Excellencies,

It is truly a great honour and privilege to host you in India for the second Summit of Forum for India Pacific Islands Cooperation – FIPIC, as it is called now.

I am deeply grateful to you for coming to India. I am aware that the journey is not short and you have busy schedules. But, I also know that familiarity shrinks distances.

I was pleased to join our President in greeting you in Delhi yesterday. I hope you have enjoyed Delhi, Agra and Jaipur and that our team let you shop a bit.

I hope you liked your visit to Taj Mahal.

If you are visiting India for the first time, I am sure you are struck by the size, the culture, the diversity and the sea of people, like we are wonderstruck at the thought of a nation living as a small community in harmony with Nature on a beautiful island!

It is this diversity that makes our planet so special!

I especially welcome you in this historic city of Jaipur. The Pink City is known for the pink sandstones of its famous palaces. It is a city of heroism and valour, of art, and, above all, a strong tradition of hospitality.

I thank Chief Minister Smt Vasudhara Raje for her generous support.

This is the first regional summit that I am hosting in India. This one will always remain very special for me.

It is also special because India and Pacific Island Countries are setting an example of partnerships for this century.

It is a partnership forged by shared aspirations and challenges. It is shaped by the belief that all nations, small and large, have equal stakes in this world.

We also recognise that a globalised world has deepened inter-dependence and changed our perception of geography.

In particular, the centre of gravity of global opportunities and challenges are shifting to the Pacific and Indian Ocean Region. The fortunes of nations in and around the two oceans are inter-linked.

For this reason, the tides that bear hopes and bring challenges to the shores in India and the Pacific Islands are the same.

That is why some call the region the Indo-Pacific Region.

But that is not all that brings us together.

Small Island States may add up to small land area and even smaller population. But, they are as important for us as any other nation. We have and will stand with you in international forums.

It is with this sense of solidarity that we made the strongest contribution to the SIDS Conference in Samoa last year, which led to the evolution of the Samoa Pathway.

We also supported the interests of SIDS on capacity building in the latest outcome document on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

India stands shoulder to shoulder with you for a dedicated seat for SIDS in an expanded and reformed United Nations Security Council in both categories.

India will support the realisation of your vision of Pacific Regionalism. It is a shining example of cooperative regionalism that should inspire others around the world.

Excellencies, the world may see you as Small Islands with modest populations. I see you as Large Ocean States with vast potential.

Some of you have Exclusive Economic Zones that are larger than the landmass and Exclusive Economic Zone of India taken together.

We are at the cusp of a new era, where oceans, like Space, will become important drivers of our economies. Their sustainable use can bring prosperity; and, give us clean energy, new medicines and food security beyond just fisheries.

Ocean is critical to India’s future, too. That is why, in the past year, I have focused a lot on ocean economy, both in India and international engagement. I see huge potential for our cooperation in this area.

India was pleased to stand with you in ensuring that sustainable use of oceans and marine resources constitute a distinct element in the Sustainable Development Goals in the United Nations that were finalised recently.

Our global challenges are similar.

Climate change is an existential threat to the Pacific Islands. It is also taking a toll on the teaming millions on India’s shoreline of 7500 kilometres and its nearly 1300 islands. We both seek a concrete and effective outcome on climate change at COP 21 in Paris later this year.

We worked together for a separate goal on climate change in the Sustainable Development Goals, and in a manner that addresses the interests of developing countries.

We must also build closer partnership in pursuit of our shared aims in the WTO-for example on fisheries.

The United Nations is at a historic milestone of its 70th anniversary. I have written to all member states on charting the course for the United Nations for the years ahead.

Seven decades after the United Nations was created, the world is a different place. We have four times as many nations. We have new challenges like climate change. We have new frontiers like Space and Ocean. We live in a globalised world with a transformed economy in a digital age. The United Nations must keep pace with the changing world.

We must press for reform in the United Nations Security Council to ensure its relevance and effectiveness in the 21st century. We seek your support for the text of the President of the General Assembly as a basis for reforming the Security Council.

Your voice of support for India’s permanent membership of the Security Council will give the United Nations the global character and balance that mirrors our age.

Excellencies,

just as FIPIC should become our springboard for a stronger global partnership, we can also enrich each other through our bilateral and regional cooperation.

During the last Summit, India announced a number of new initiatives with the Pacific Islands countries. I am pleased that we have been able to deliver on many of our commitments.

These include increasing India’s grant-in-aid to Pacific Island countries from 125,000 to 200,000 U.S. dollars, e-tourist visas, deputation of Indian experts in the area of coir industry and a special training programme for diplomats of the Pacific Island countries.

Trade, more than aid, is the enabler for development. I am pleased to announce the establishment of the FIPIC Trade Office in the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi.

This is just the first step towards promoting trade and investment opportunities between India and Pacific Island countries.

Excellencies, people of Indian origin in many of your countries provide a special human link between us.

Excellencies, I eagerly look forward to hearing your views. I will also share my thoughts on our future initiatives to take this wonderful partnership forward.

I want to say a special word of thanks for your support for the record-breaking adoption of International Day of Yoga by the United Nations, and for making the first International Day of Yoga a grand success in your countries.

In conclusion, I wish to say that the world is more magnificent for the rich gems of island states. And, life on these islands is a beautiful proof of God’s will and human spirit.

We will work together to sustain and nurture some of Nature’s most precious gifts and some of this world’s most wonderful people.

Thank you.
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