Amid the ongoing spat between the Maldives and India, the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) has strongly condemned derogatory remarks made by officials in the tourism-dependent country against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the people of India. Terming India as one of the closest neighbours and allies of the Maldives, MATI noted that India has always been a first responder to various crises throughout the history of the island country.
“India is one of our closest neighbours and allies. India has always been a first responder to various crises throughout our history and we are immensely grateful to the close relationship that the government as well as the people of India have maintained with us,” MAITI said in a statement. It stressed that India has been a “consistent and significant contributor to the tourism industry of the Maldives.” It stated that India has “greatly assisted” Maldives recovery efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic after the borders were reopened.
In a press release, MATI stated, “Since then, India has continued to remain as one of the top markets for the Maldives.” “It is our sincere wish that the close relationship between our two nations endures for generations to come and as such, we refrain from actions or speech that may have any negative impact on our good relationship,” it added.
A massive row was triggered after the Maldives deputy minister, along with other cabinet members and government officials, made disparaging and unsavoury references to PM Modi’s Lakshadweep visit. On January 2, PM Modi visited the Union Territory of Lakshadweep and shared several pictures, including an ‘exhilarating experience’ of him trying his hand at snorkelling.
In a series of posts on X, PM Modi shared pictures of the white beaches, the pristine blue skies and the ocean and tagged them with a message that read, “For those who wish to embrace the adventurer in them, Lakshadweep has to be on your list.” In a post that has now been deleted, the Maldivian Deputy Minister of Youth Empowerment, Mariyam Shiuna, made a mocking and disrespectful reference to PM Modi.
Indians, including cricketers and film celebrities, have since come out in open support in promoting local beach destinations and other tourist spots. They also voiced support for PM Modi’s call for promoting beach tourism in Lakshadweep. The Maldives government has, however, distanced itself from the remarks made by its ministers. Maldivian Minister of Foreign Affairs Moosa Zameer said that these remarks against foreign leaders are “unacceptable” and do not reflect the official position of the Maldives government.
In a post shared on X, Moosa Zameer stated, “The recent remarks against foreign leaders and our close neighbours are unacceptable and do not reflect the official position of the Government of #Maldives. We remain committed to fostering a positive and constructive dialogue with all our partners, especially our neighbours, based on mutual respect and understanding.” On Monday, the Indian High Commissioner to Maldives, Munu Mahawar on Monday held a “pre-arranged meeting” with Ali Naseer Mohamed, Ambassador at Large, at the Maldivian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Male.
The Indian High Commission in Maldives posted on X, “High Commissioner Munu Mahawar had a pre-arranged meeting with H.E. Dr Ali Naseer Mohamed, Ambassador at Large, at MoFA, Maldives, today to discuss bilateral issues.” Earlier on Sunday, former Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih stated that New Delhi has always been a good friend to the island nation.
Taking to his official handle on X, Solih posted, “I condemn the use of hateful language against #India by Maldivian government officials on social media. India has always been a good friend to Maldives and we must not allow such callous remarks to negatively impact the age old friendship between our two countries.”