Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdulla Shahid, today participated in the Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting. The meeting was held virtually and chaired by the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom Dominic Raab.

In his statement, Minister Shahid thanked Member States and the Secretary-General for their valuable support in ensuring the Maldives re-joined the Commonwealth family. He noted that the Commonwealth is an organization where the voices of small states are always heard and always considered. He stated that the time to revisit the Commonwealth Vulnerability Index has never been more pertinent and expressed optimism that a new Vulnerability Index, that considers the particular challenges of small states in light of COVID-19 and climate change, will be ready soon.

Minister Shahid also said that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the “middle-income trap” faced by many small states. In this regard, he called for more access to concessional finance to effectively respond to and recover from the pandemic. He expressed Maldives’ support for the efforts by the Commonwealth in assisting Member States in overcoming the negative effects of the pandemic, including the establishment of the Disaster Risk Finance Portal and the Commonwealth’s call for sovereign debt relief and access to international finance markets.

He further reiterated support for the Commonwealth’s ambition for a fair, inclusive and sustainable approach towards ocean protection and economic development. Minister Shahid stated that the Maldives looks forward to phasing out single-use plastic by 2023 and other measures to protect the ocean by working with Commonwealth Blue Charter Action Groups such as the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance. Describing unity among Commonwealth nations as a strength to overcome unforeseen challenges, he expressed solidarity with Mauritius over the recent oil spill disaster. He commended their response and noted that the disaster was a stark reminder of vulnerabilities of many Commonwealth Member States.

In closing, Minister Shahid echoed the sentiments of many Maldivians by stating that the Maldives looks forward to capacity building and the exchange of experiences for the benefit of all Commonwealth citizens. He further said that the Maldives looks forward to active engagement within the Commonwealth family once again.

This was the first Commonwealth Foreign Ministers Meeting Minister Shahid participated in since the Maldives formally re-joined the organisation on 1 February 2020, delivering a key pledge of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. The Maldives continues to engage within the Commonwealth across a number of different sectors.