SINGAPORE:¬†Australia¬†is keen to work closely with India and others to address challenges and develop new opportunities like combating piracy and climate change in the¬†Indian Ocean¬†region, a senior diplomat said.¬†
Australia will take over the chairmanship of the Indian Ocean Rim-Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) from India next month.
“We are looking forward to taking over the chairmanship in the fourth quarter of this year and we will continue to work with¬†the India¬†and others [partners in¬†the IOR-ARC],”¬†Philip Green,¬†the Australian High Commissioner¬†to Singapore told PTI.
IOR-ARC¬†is an international organisation with 20 member states and was first established in Mauritius in March 1995 and formally launched in March 1997.
“The agenda before¬†IOR-ARC¬†needs to be a practical, realistic one; we will seek to make progress pragmatically and incrementally,” Green said at a seminar organised by the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), a think tank of¬†the National¬†University of Singapore¬†held yesterday.
“IOR-ARC must engage dialogue partners such as China and the United States on a constructive and ongoing basis,” he said at the seminar,¬†themedBSE 1.13 %¬†”The Indian Ocean: In Search of Regional Identity”.
“Genuine Indian Ocean regionalism¬†is achievable over the longer-term, and it needs the investment and commitment of members now to reignite the process,” he said.
He pointed out that a regional approach was the most effective way to combat the ongoing and persistent challenges facing the region, namely maritime insecurity such as piracy, climate change, sustainability andfood security.
A commitment to regionalism does not preclude other sub-groupings and bilateral arrangements as well.
“In fact, we cannot solely rely on regionalism to solve all our problems. In a region as diverse as the Indian Ocean, we also need to work with like minded on issues that do not affect the region as a whole,” Green said.
A strong commitment to reform of IOR-ARC and a belief that regionalism has to be the primary vehicle of change was not incompatible with recognition of the value of bilateral solutions to some issues.
“IOR-ARC does not preclude bilateralism and isn’t the solution to all the challenges the Indian Ocean faces,” he said.
“But it is the best vehicle for region wide cooperation that we have – as a new layer of cooperation to both address Indian Ocean regional challenges and develop new opportunities.
“It is why Australia was a founding member. And it is why we are committed to bringing it forward, to revitalising it and to ensure that it serves the common good of the Indian Ocean region,” he added.