Thank you Retno and Maite. I am delighted to be here as part of the IORA Troika, and particularly pleased to be able to attend the Council of Ministers' meeting here in Jakarta on the eve of the inaugural IORA Leaders' Summit, and during the first IORA Business Summit.
As the chair of IORA from 2013 to 2015, I am particularly pleased that Australia has been able to support Indonesia in its ambitious agenda to promote IORA as a significant forum, comprising 21 member nations and seven dialogue partners. The member nations are the littoral states of the Indian Ocean rim, and the seven dialogue partners support our focus on all matters to do with the Indian Ocean.
This is the 20th anniversary of IORA, and I think it's timely that we reflect on the achievements of this diverse group of nations and particularly the fact that we face challenges and are prepared to take action in relation to maritime safety and security, the management of our fisheries, the natural disaster risk management initiatives, but also the opportunities that come from greater trade and investment, from academic, science and technology cooperation and tourism and cultural exchanges. We also focus on the blue economy, after all, we are all nations of the Indian Ocean and a sustainable ocean is vital to our respective economies. And we also focus on the economic empowerment of women as being part of the necessary environment for economies to flourish.
Australia is particularly welcoming of the standalone declaration that was adopted by ministers today, on countering terrorism and countering and preventing violent extremism. Many Indian Ocean region countries are at the forefront of counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism, and this declaration today recognises the need to share information, to share best practice and to cooperate in defeating this scourge.
I take this opportunity to congratulate my friend, Ibu Retno, on her competent and ambitious chairing of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for the past two years. Later this year, she will be handing over to Maite as South Africa takes on the Chair's role, but I particularly want to congratulate Ibu Retno on the vision of having a Leaders' Summit to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of this most diverse organisation. A stable, secure, prosperous and connected Indian Ocean is not only in the interests of our region, it's in the interests of our world. Thank you, Retno.
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