Countries Should Build Trust on Maritime Front Through Dialogue: Defence Minister

Indian Navy

New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh October 30  stressed the need to build trust among countries on the maritime front through dialogue and said common maritime priorities of tackling climate change, controlling piracy, terrorism and drug trafficking should be addressed in cooperation. He was addressing the Indian Navy‘s Goa Maritime Conclave (GMC) 2023, which began on Sunday, October 29. The conclave will conclude on October 31.

The theme of the GMC is “Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean Region: Converting Common Maritime Priorities into Collaborative Mitigating Frameworks”.

“How do we build trust? We build trust through dialogues such as the GMC, joint exercises, industrial collaboration, sharing of resources, respecting international law etc.,” Singh said, adding that the trust amongst cooperating countries will lead to optimal outcomes in common maritime priorities. “Since our countries interact with each other on a multitude of issues. It is possible to build trust by discussion and consultation with each other,” the defence minister said.

Quoting the Sanskrit adage ‘Sanghe Shakti Kaliyuge’, Singh said in the present era, strength lies in collaboration and cooperation, and cooperative equilibrium can also be achieved in international relations.

“In our context, common maritime priorities such as tackling climate change, controlling piracy, terrorism, drug trafficking and overfishing at the high seas need to be addressed by all of us cooperatively. “If the threats that we face are supranational in scope and impact, international efforts to address them will indeed have limited effects,” the defence minister said, adding that regional challenges can be managed through multinational collaborative mitigation frameworks. Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a challenge related to over-exploitation of resources in the region, Singh said.

IUU fishing threatens the ecosystem, economic security and regional and global food security, he said, adding that it is a common maritime priority to control IUU fishing. Multinational collaboration efforts for the compilation, coalition and sharing of surveillance data was the need of the hour, he said.

“It will help in identifying actors with irregular or threatening behaviour, which needs to be countered resolutely,” Singh added. He further said that the “pandemic of climate irresponsibility” will threaten societies, and just like the recent pandemic (COVID-19), there is a vaccine available (for the climate pandemic).

“It is a vaccine of collaboration, climate responsibility and climate justice. If all countries accept the responsibility to cut the emission by investing in green economy and shared technology, there is no reason why humanity cannot overcome this problem as well,” Singh said.

Our narrow immediate interests tempt us to flout or disrespect the international laws, but doing so will lead to the breakdown of civilised maritime intercourse, he said. “The law of the jungle will be the result of such narrowness. Our common security and prosperity cannot be preserved without all committing cooperatively and adhering to maritime rules,” Singh said.

At the GMC, the Indian Navy is hosting chiefs of navies, heads of maritime forces and senior representatives from Indian Ocean littorals, including Bangladesh, Comoros, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Maldives, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, he said.