President: Maldives may be small, but it cannot be bullied

President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu returns to Maldives following state visit to China on January 13, 2024. (Photo/Infinite Moments/Mohamed Maavee)

Maldives may be small, but it does not give countries the license to bully us, says President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu.

President Muizzu made the remark while speaking to the press at the Velana International Airport upon return to Maldives after his state visit to China.

In his statement, President Muizzu said that the Indian Ocean does not belong to a specific country.

“Though we have small islands in this ocean, we have a vast exclusive economic zone of 900,000 square kilometers. Maldives is one of the countries with the biggest share of this ocean,” he said.

“This ocean does not belong to a specific country. This ocean also belongs to all countries situated in it.”

The comments come amid a social media campaign launched by India to boycott Maldives’ tourism sector.

President Muizzu also responded to comments that Maldives is situated in India’s backyard.

“We aren’t in anyone’s backyard. We are an independent and sovereign state,” he said.

President Muizzu said that non-interference in internal affairs form the basis of Maldives-China relations. He said that China will not exert its influence in any of Maldives’ domestic affairs.

In an indirect jab at the former Maldivian administration’s pro-India policies, President Muizzu said the former administration had sought permission from a foreign country “to get up from one chair and sit on another chair.”

He said that this wasn’t what the Maldivian people want, and that no country should exert influence over the domestic affairs of the other.

“We may be small, but that doesn’t give you the license to bully us,” he said, before concluding his statement.