TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Iran’s foreign minister said the Indian Ocean region is facing many challenges, including piracy and human trafficking, adding that the blue economy there could be achieved only through the security and stability of the entire region and this cannot be purchased from outside.

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“The Indian Ocean region faces many challenges including piracy, human trafficking, drug, weapons and wildlife smuggling, illegal fishing, pollution, and the unlawful exploitation of marine resources,” Zarif said on Thursday, addressing the 3rd Blue Economy Conference of IORA in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

He added, “Security and stability in the Indian Ocean are vitally important for all of us. The alarming rise of extremist unilateralism, contempt for the rule of law, the resurrection of gunboat diplomacy and unlawful coercive measures against civilian populations—amounting to economic terrorism—are the greatest challenges not only to the IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association) region, but also to our collective global achievements over the previous many decades.”

Following is the full text of his speech at the event:

At the outset, allow me to express my deep appreciation to the Honorable Prime Minister Sheik Hasina and the people and government of Bangladesh for their warm hospitality.

Distinguished friends,

The seas and oceans are our future. More than three billion people on earth depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for sustenance. The Indian Ocean has enormous resources, which need to be explored and tapped for the benefit of our communities. Blue economy—as an ocean-driven growth model—is a systemic approach aimed at fostering growth by upholding environmental sustainability and social inclusion.

Issues related to the oceans and their social dimensions are clearly linked, inter-related, and need to be considered in a comprehensive and holistic manner. In this context, human well-being and the livelihood of coastal communities—which are directly affected by food security and maritime security—must be our primary focus. Also, issues such as maritime tourism, the involvement of the private sector in maritime infrastructure, port networks, financial support, and the threat of marine-born plastic debris should be further explored.

For IORA, the implementation of the blue economy to catalyze ocean-driven economic growth is directly linked to threats, challenges and opportunities in the Indian Ocean. As Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has aptly observed, “If the blue economy is to guide our economics in future, then we should use our sea to promote friendship and curb tensions in the region; respect freedom of navigation and cooperate through the mechanisms of IORA.”

The Indian Ocean region faces many challenges including piracy, human trafficking, drug, weapons and wildlife smuggling, illegal fishing, pollution, and the unlawful exploitation of marine resources. Security and stability in the Indian Ocean are vitally important for all of us. The alarming rise of extremist unilateralism, contempt for the rule of law, the resurrection of gunboat diplomacy and unlawful coercive measures against civilian populations—amounting to economic terrorism—are the greatest challenges not only to the IORA region, but also to our collective global achievements over the previous many decades.

Allow me to conclude by emphasizing that the flourishing of the blue economy in the Indian Ocean requires the security and stability of the entire region. The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that this must emanate from within—through inclusion and cooperation among the States of the region— and cannot be purchased from outside, which would only lead to further military build-ups, rivalry and exclusion. We are ready to cooperate in any collective arrangement to this end.

Thank you for your attention.