Few ideas to keep the dream of regional integration alive

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With the incoming meeting of the foreign ministers of the SAARC nation in Pokhara, the Leaders of the region should find new ways to reinvigorate the regional integration process. 1st: the Leaders should find time to meet every year. 2nd: the Foreign Ministers should meet every six months. 3rd: the SAARC Secretariat, itself in need of a revamp, should invest in people to people people iniatitives

The SAARC and the Process of Regional Cooperation: An Interview with Gauri Khandekar, FRIDE

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Gauri Khandekar, is the Head of Programme-Agora Asia-Europe at FRIDE, a European Think Tank for Global Action, one of the leading worldwide research center in international relations . Gauri was in Kathmandu for the recent SAARC meeting. After almost two months, here we have some reflections about the current status of South Asian regional integration with some reference to current EU affairs.

Reflecting on the SAARC Summit and the overall regional integration process, Interview with Ambassador (retd) Deo, Director, Gateway House


I had the opportunity to take part at a Panel Discussion on "Expectations from the 18th SAARC Summit" that was jointly organized by the Center for South Asian Studies in partnership with COSATT, south regional think tank network with the support of Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

Among the panelists, Ambassador (retd) Neelam Deo that after a distinguished career in the Indian foreign affair service that included diplomatic posting in West Africa, Europe and USA, is one of the drivers of the Gateway House, a leading international relation think tank based in Mumbai. Ambassador Deo offered her views on the current status of the regional integration process, highlighting the important role that religion can play to further create a common identity.

Ambassador Deo kindly accepted to be interviewed by S4G.

SAARC as an Economic but also Social Union?

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Prime Minister Koirla made a bold statement: envisioning a South Regional Economic Union. There is no economic union that is not also social. Now it seems a dream but with resolute determination from civil society and the corporate sector, the union can become a reality. Creating an economic but also social union is possible but we need to keep and step up the momentum.

Why are they sitting this way?

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The sitting arrangement and the venue itself show the way of doing business at regional level. No doubts that the level of cooperation, forget the level of integration, suffers.

Which kind of SAARC?

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What we need is a vision, small, big or medium size of what we want out of a regional integration process. Enhanced cooperation is surely positive but only a deeper integration can truly make a real difference for the common people. It is high time leaders of the region must think strategically about the future of South Asia. The citizens of the region should also be involved in deciding which Sou

China joining SAARC? No kidding but…

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There is real potential for greater cooperation with China if South Asia gets serious on its integration process but unless the nation members of SAARC step up their efforts to strengthen their regional unity, it does not make sense to talk about a stronger engagement of China with South Asia as a regional bloc.

Promoting a SAARC Capital of Volunteerism

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If Barcelona can become the Capital of Volunteerism in the EU for 2014, why not a South Asian city can aspire to something similar? Volunteerism can renovate a new sense of unity and common belonging in the region while fostering the foundations for a better and more equal society.

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