Excellency, Prak Sokhonn, Co-Chair, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cambodia
I would like to begin today’s meeting by congratulating all the MGC Member states on the successful completion of 20 years of Mekong Ganga Cooperation. I would like to take this opportunity to express, India’s deep appreciation to you and your governments for the excellent and fruitful cooperation we have had over the last two decades.
I would also like to convey my compliments to Cambodia for their efforts in organizing today’s meeting as MGC Co-Chair, and having maintained the continuity of MGC process despite the COVID related difficulties.
The Mekong Ganga Cooperation stands on a strong foundation of shared geographical, historical and civilizational ties between our six countries. This oldest sub-regional cooperation is as much a celebration of our long and rich history of trade, cultural and people-to-people exchanges as it is a vehicle to advance modern day cooperation to bring progress and prosperity to our people.
During our last ministerial meeting in Bangkok in 2019, we agreed to commemorate the 20th anniversary of MGC in a befitting manner. However, much of the celebrations, especially in physical format have been postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But I am happy to note that today will inaugurate the MGC Website and a video documentary highlighting the cultural, historical, religious, social and economic bonds that we share with each other.
For India, the Mekong region is of great importance. India seeks multi-dimensional engagement with the Mekong countries. We need to broaden the base of our partnership by identifying newer areas of cooperation. We aim to promote connectivity in the region in the broadest sense of the term including not just physical but also digital, economic, and people-to-people connectivity.
We are into the second year of dealing with the pandemic related disruption. Our experience shows that the virus does not respect national boundaries. It is therefore necessary that the response to the pandemic is also collective and collaborative. We need to work together to find ways how the MGC partnership can lend its strength to the fight against the pandemic. I look forward to our discussion today.
Thank You, Mr. Co-Chair and Excellencies.