Ambassador of Mexico to the Maldives, Federico Salas hopeful for a fruitful Mexico-Maldives Friendship

Mexico is one of the 15 richest countries in the world. The Latin American country boasts a rich history and is the country with the second-biggest economy in the region. With a population of more than 130 million, Mexico has established strong economic institutions and is known for having an abundance of natural resources. Like the Maldives, Mexico is also known to be a world-famous tourist destination.

Maldives and Mexico established diplomatic relations on 15th November 1975. This year will mark the 46th year since diplomatic relations were established between both countries. Almost half a century later, the relations between the two countries have remained quite dormant and have not seen significant progress over the years.

The newly assigned Mexican Ambassador to the Maldives hopes to shift the dynamics. He wishes to establish a better diplomatic relationship with the Maldives and maintain a close relationship between both countries. He is eager and ready to help the Maldives and its people in various fields and is ready to provide assistance to the Maldives in any way possible.

On August 8, the Mexican Ambassador to the Maldives, His Excellency Federico Salas exchanged his credentials with the President of the Maldives, after which he gave a special Exclusive Interview to Avas Online.

Here is a summary of the Exclusive Interview given by the Ambassador:

First of all, we would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the Maldives and thank you for giving us the opportunity to conduct this interview. To start the interview, we would like to ask whether this is the first time you are visiting the Maldives?

Yes, this is my first time here in the Maldives, and I am very happy to be here. I have had the chance to visit Male' and Hulhumale' only, and there are many interesting things that I have seen in the places I visited in the two days that I have been here.

It is going to be almost 46 years since diplomatic relations between the two countries were established. What are your thoughts relating to the current diplomatic relationship between Mexico and Maldives?

Well, you are right, I think it is going to be 46 years this year since we started diplomatic relations, and I think we are at a point where we need to strengthen the relationship we have between the Maldives and Mexico.

I think that in the past, the relationship has been somewhat dormant because of the distance and probably a number of other reasons. But I think now it is a good time to strengthen the relationship we have, certainly in the political aspect, but also in other aspects like economically, culturally, people-to-people exchanges and I think that is where we will be going for in the future.

Geographically, Mexico is far away from the Maldives. So, how do you think Mexico can give aid and support to the Maldives?

We are geographically very far away, that is true. But nowadays, distance is really not that important. I mean - people are traveling from one side of the world to the other without any problems, and we have a lot of Mexicans coming to the Maldives. Maybe we can talk about that a bit later.

We are exploring what aspects of cooperation that we can do with the Maldives and that is one of the reasons why I am here today, aside from presenting credentials, of course. I am being credited as a full ambassador. But what I want to do is precisely to explore how best we can work together with the Maldives on a number of issues. For example, we have talked about questions of climate change and renewable energies to give you one specific example.

On the other hand, before the pandemic, we have had, not a very large but very healthy trade relationship between Mexico and the Maldives which was growing pretty fast and I hope that as we move towards the future and things become normal, that we will be able to start again where we left off in terms of the economic relationship, the trade, exchanges between the countries, and eventually that we can also have some mutual investments or at least Mexican investments and cooperation here in the Maldives. That is something we are exploring right now, to see what specific sectors, what specific areas that Mexico can collaborate with the Maldives.

During your term as the ambassador for Maldives, what are you planning to do to make the diplomatic relations between Mexico and Maldives stronger than before?

The first thing I want to do - and this is something I have started doing today- is to open channels of communication and to have a flow of dialogue between myself at the embassy based in New Delhi. But also as well with officials from the government of the Maldives and with the officials with the Mexican government.

I also had a meeting with the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, for example, we talked about enhancing parliamentary contacts between legislators of Mexico and the ones from the Maldives, and hopefully, that is something that we will be able to also do in the future. I also have many plans for things I would like to do. We also talked in the Foreign Ministry. For example, enhancing the cooperation between the diplomatic academies of both our countries and maybe having some student exchanges between Mexico and the Maldives.

So there is really a large number of possibilities of things that we can do. Despite the distance, the possibility is there, and we should take advantage of that.

Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid was elected to be the President of the 76th UN General Assembly, and Mexico is currently a member of the UN Security Council. In relation to this, will Mexico be supporting Abdulla Shahid in his term as the President of the UN General Assembly?

Well, certainly we will be supportive. We supported his candidacy, we voted for him and we are very happy that he won by a very wide margin the Presidency of the General Assembly. As you correctly said, we are presently a member of the United Nations Security Council as non-permanent members and we are going to be coinciding with the presidency of Mr.Shahid throughout his presidency in the General Assembly.

First thing in answer to your question, we plan to increase the communication between the Security Council and the General Assembly so that we can work together to tackle issues that are of mutual concern and let me mention just one of them - the equitable distribution of vaccine and medication around the world and other health issues that need to be addressed - and I think that is where the world forum needs to work very closely in that regard.

Another thing we would like to do of course is, we are aware of his priorities and things that he wants to achieve and we will be there to be able to work with him to see how best we can help him. There are some things that are in the international agenda that needs to be worked on, for example, the goal of the agenda 2030 needs to be pushed up so that all the countries will comply with them, and the whole question of strengthening the multilateral organization in general, not only the UN General Assembly but the whole family of the United Nations organization need to be strengthened so they deliver the good for which they were created and for which there is a lot of expectations in the world population.

Just in general, we are going to be working closely with him as the President of the General Assembly. I think we share his expectations. He ran a campaign to run a General Assembly of "hope" and this is something we also hope will be achievable.

The Maldives is known to be one of the most famous tourist destinations. In which aspect did you get to know the Maldives?

The Maldives, of course, is a world-famous tourist destination as you correctly said, and we have had many Mexicans that are coming here as well for tourist purposes. We had many Mexicans here before the pandemic struck, of course, many of them eventually left. But more and more are wanting to come to the Maldives even after the pandemic to spend holidays or they want to come here for their honeymoon, that type of thing.

We are hoping that they will come and enjoy what the Maldives has to offer. We need to work on a few things to make it easier for Mexicans to come to the Maldives but also for Maldivians to go to Mexico. We have to work on issues of connectivity to make it easier, even though nowadays international travel has become such a burden in many ways.

We can certainly work on that to facilitate the contact between both countries, and this is something we need to be working on.

What do you think can be done to increase the number of Mexican tourists visiting Maldives?

We are already doing it. There are promotions of what the Maldives has to offer. This is a destination that everybody looks forward to in many ways. And as I said, we are trying to facilitate the connectivity to make it easier for them to come here and [to] make them feel safe and at ease when they come to the Maldives, and I also think that the more that we have contact between both countries and the more that we have the dialogue that I spoke about, and the [more] the people in Mexico learn about the Maldives and the cooperation we can have with the Maldives, I think more and more people will want to come to the Maldives.

The Mexican Health industry is highly rated in the world. Many medical students also receive their education in Mexico. Even some students from the USA receive their medical education in Mexico. Do you believe that there will be such opportunities to students from Maldives in the future?

This is something we are looking into. As I mentioned, we are talking about how best we can increase the number of students from the Maldives, not only in health areas but other areas, that may be able to come to Mexico and pursue higher education or specialization on some issues here and there. This is something we are also going to be looking into in the near future so that we can increase those flows. And hopefully, we can also get some Mexicans to come over here.

We already have many Mexicans who are working here in the resorts in the Maldives in managerial positions or as chefs in the restaurants of the resorts, so I think that the idea of people to people exchange is a very good one and the idea of providing educational opportunities for people of both countries is even a better one. So, we will be working on that.

We do have programs of scholarships and we are going to promote them and we are going to make them known so that students here in the Maldives who are interested and want to take advantage of them can apply for those scholarships and therefore, benefit from them.

Is there anything you would like to add before we finish the interview?

The only thing I would like to add is that I am very pleased to be here. We have had a very good welcome here from the president and all the people we have met, and we are very happy. Especially I am very enthusiastic because I think I have found a receptivity by the official people from the Maldivian side to increase the cooperation and cement a stronger friendship between our two countries, and that is something we will definitely do in the coming future.