New Delhi, Feb 14 : The Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, today said that the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium is an initiative to recognise the strength that can be derived from cooperative engagement in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
"Multi-polarity, much like spring, is breaking out everywhere. Perhaps the defining characteristic of globalisation has been economic-interdependence," Admiral Mehta said while welcoming delegates of the IONS, the first new andignificant international cooperative construct of the 21st Century.
"The IONS should be seen as a construct in our region that focuses on issues related to, or, which can be influenced through the maritime environment," he said.
"In doing so, it would perhaps help in creating conditions for regional cooperative efforts to spill over to other fields as well. That would be a welcome spin-off indeed," Admiral Mehta added.
He said that each country's navy in the region is interested primarily in the well-being and economic prosperity of our respective people, which are our core national interests, and added that threats to these core interests are likely to produce immediate and robust responses from each one of us.
"Yet, the economic-interdependence that globalisation has brought about means that whatever threatens the economic well-being of one, threatens the economic well-being of all. The responses to collective threats, therefore, need to be equally immediate and robust," Admiral Mehta said.
In a region that has long been dismissed as being too diverse and too insecure to act firmly, cohesively, or collectively, the launch of such an initiative, in the presence of so many of its principal architects, is in itself a matter of enormous regional and global significance, he said.
This could not have happened without the active support and the deep and personal commitment of my fellow Chiefs-of-Navy and Heads of Maritime Agencies across the length and breadth of the Indian Ocean, he claimed.
Admiral Mehta assured navies of the region, who could not be present at this inaugural event that their places are reserved.
"I can say this with the confidence born out of certainty, because the 'IONS initiative' is, at its most fundamental level, all about inclusiveness. It is a pan-regional construct and we do not seek to exclude," he claimed.
There have been initiatives that have lost their acceptance and relevance since their foundations were based upon 'exclusion' as a principle, he added.
"The changed realities of our present time provides both strategic and intellectual space for other forms of collective groupings of states that are arrayed not against one another, but against security challenges and threats that are common to all. This is as true of the Indian Ocean Region as of any other," Admiral Mehta said.
"IONS seeks to provide a regionally and culturally sensitive organisational structure to this instinctive reaching out. It seeks to build capacity and enhance capability amongst the individual States of the region, and, in so doing, strengthen the collective IOR as a whole," he added.
The threats of 'intra-State' turmoil as well as a variety of security threats that are short of State-on-State conflict, remain a grim reality, presenting a significant risk to peace and stability.
The important shipping lanes and choke points of our region are vulnerable to disruption, piracy and in the worst case, closure - with serious implications on safety of trade and security of energy flows.
"And if that was not enough, our region is home to 70 per cent of the world's natural disasters. Can we find individual solutions to all these challenges that stare us in the face? Or does it make more sense to hold hands and find collective answers? I think the choice is clear," Admiral Mehta said.