Maldives Struggles with Financial Crisis Amidst Escalating Tensions with India

Maldives is facing unexpected turmoil due to recent actions that strained its relations with India, resulting in the declaration of bankruptcy by the island nation. The dispute, worsened by President Mohammed Muizzu’s ‘India Out’ campaign, has led to a critical financial situation prompting Maldives to seek a bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), exacerbating its economic woes.

President Muizzu’s ‘India Out’ campaign, aiming to remove Indian soldiers from Maldives and replace them with qualified technical staff from India by May 10, marked a significant escalation in tensions between the two countries. The situation worsened when three Maldivian ministers made controversial remarks about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Lakshadweep.

Despite the subsequent expulsion of the three ministers, President Muizzu refrained from condemning their remarks, further straining India-Maldives relations. This deliberate provocation led to reports of Maldives declaring bankruptcy, prompting the government to turn to the IMF for financial assistance.

Under President Muizzu’s leadership, the once-positive relations between India and Maldives have dramatically shifted. His anti-India stance, evident in efforts to expel the Indian army and controversial ministerial comments, has severely strained diplomatic ties.

The fallout from these actions has caused widespread dissent among Indians, resulting in many canceling trips to Maldives, significantly impacting the nation’s tourism industry. India, previously a major source of tourists for Maldives, has seen a sharp decline in visitor numbers, slipping from the top spot to fifth place last year.

The combination of financial implications and strained diplomatic relations presents multifaceted challenges for Maldives, affecting both its economic stability and diplomatic standing.

Holy See’s Global Diplomatic Network Flourishes: Establishes New Ties, Ratifies Agreements, and Navigates a Robust International Landscape

In the context of the customary audience extended by the Pope to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, the Secretary of State of the Vatican has disseminated updated information regarding the countries maintaining diplomatic ties with the Holy See.

As of the commencement of the year 2024, the Holy See boasts diplomatic relations with 184 countries. This tally includes not only individual nations but also encompasses the European Union and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The collective presence of embassies headquartered in Rome, inclusive of those representing the European Union and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, amounts to a total of 91. Additionally, Rome serves as the base for the offices of significant international entities such as the League of Arab States, the International Organization for Migration, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

In a significant diplomatic development during the course of 2023, the Holy See officially established full-fledged diplomatic relations with the Sultanate of Oman on February 23. Subsequently, on July 19, the “Supplementary Agreement to the Agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of Kazakhstan on Mutual Relations of September 24, 1998,” pertaining to the issuance of visas and residence permits to ecclesiastical and religious personnel from abroad, was ratified. This agreement, initially signed on September 14, 2022, underscores the evolving nature of the Holy See’s diplomatic engagements. Furthermore, on July 27, the Holy See concluded the “Agreement on the Status of the Pontifical Representative Resident and the Office of the Pontifical Representative Resident in Vietnam” with Vietnam. The culmination of this agreement was marked by the subsequent appointment of a Pontifical Representative Resident on December 23.

As of the conclusion of 2023, the United Nations officially recognizes a total of 195 countries.In light of this, it is noteworthy that the Holy See maintains diplomatic relations with 184 countries, leaving 11 nations with which it does not have established diplomatic ties. This positioning underscores the Holy See’s standing as one of the nations boasting one of the most extensive networks of diplomatic relations globally. The historical trajectory of the Holy See’s diplomatic engagements is marked by Spain being the first country ever with which the Holy See established diplomatic relations, while the Sultanate of Oman represents the latest addition to this distinguished list.

It is important to underscore the significance of the Holy See’s diplomatic reach, encompassing a broad spectrum of nations and international entities. The European Union and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta are emblematic of the diverse range of entities with which the Holy See cultivates diplomatic ties. Additionally, the concentration of embassies in Rome, including those representing the European Union and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, highlights the city’s pivotal role as a hub for diplomatic activities.

The diplomatic developments of 2023, particularly the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Sultanate of Oman, exemplify the Holy See’s ongoing commitment to fostering international dialogue and cooperation. The ratification of the “Supplementary Agreement” with the Republic of Kazakhstan reflects the Holy See’s proactive approach in addressing specific aspects of diplomatic relations. Similarly, the conclusion of the “Agreement on the Status of the Pontifical Representative Resident and the Office of the Pontifical Representative Resident in Vietnam” signifies the Holy See’s concerted efforts to formalize and structure its diplomatic engagements with individual nations.

The Holy See’s expansive diplomatic network is particularly noteworthy in the context of the United Nations’ recognition of 195 countries. With diplomatic relations established with 184 nations, the Holy See has positioned itself as a key player in international diplomacy. The absence of diplomatic ties with only 11 countries further underscores the comprehensiveness of the Holy See’s diplomatic outreach.

The historical perspective of the Holy See’s diplomatic relations adds depth to its contemporary engagements. Spain holds a special place in the Holy See’s diplomatic history as the first nation with which it established diplomatic relations. This historical connection serves as a testament to the enduring nature of diplomatic ties between the Holy See and individual countries. The recent addition of the Sultanate of Oman to the list of nations with diplomatic relations further underscores the Holy See’s commitment to expanding its global diplomatic footprint.