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Former President Mancham, Ministers,

The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,

Your Excellencies members of the diplomatic corps, Honorary Consuls, Members of the National Assembly, Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to our annual diplomatic gathering held this year in the wonderful ambience of La Plaine St Andre¸ a location which is rich in culture and history.

It is also a location which is conducive to diplomacy at a personal level- which we believe is certainly one of Seychelles’s strengths.  As the world seems to get smaller through technological innovations, it is striking that the gulfs that open up between peoples often seem to widen.

But for Seychelles, our smallness, which is often one of the constraints in navigating the international arena, also allows us to practice diplomacy at a very human level and make meaningful contributions to both our bilateral and multilateral relationships. 

We engage in diplomacy that makes a difference.

I take this opportunity to thank all of you here tonight for your support in making that difference.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

In 2012, the world continues to be buffeted by economic turbulence, from high oil prices to the Eurozone crisis.  We have also followed closely the events surrounding the Arab Spring which have fundamentally altered the dynamics of the Middle East and North Africa.  These events have challenged our conceptions of the state, as well as that of multilateral institutions.  When faced with such questions, the need for enhanced intergovernmental consultations at all levels is reinforced.

In the last few days, we have noted with concern the events in the Maldives.  As a neighbouring state with whom we have close ties, we are monitoring the situation closely and we are hopeful that the peace and prosperity of the Maldivian people will continue to be safeguarded.

Seychelles has always offered itself as a reliable partner for the promotion of peace and stability in the region and beyond.  In 2012, we shall continue to work towards reinforcing this role. 

Ladies and gentlemen,  

Despite all the challenges before us, we face the coming year however with determination to strive for our Seychelles. Our resolve is stronger than ever.

Seychelles continues to be at the forefront of the ongoing efforts to tackle piracy off the Coast of Somalia.  President Michel recently wrote to a number of world leaders to call for improved and more concerted action on Somalia and the problem of piracy.  We are most encouraged by the initial response from our partners.  We continue to emphasise the importance of more support for regional states such as Seychelles, the need to consolidate areas of stability within Somalia, the need to  end impunity of pirates and the need to take action against the financiers of piracy. 

Most importantly, we are also continuing to work with a number of partners to be able to resolve the bottleneck of pirates that are already convicted.  Seychelles currently has 67 convicted pirates.  We have recently accepted a further 18 on the understanding that we are able to transfer convicted prisoners to internationally monitored prisons within Somalia as a matter of priority.

Piracy affects every nation.  And it imposes an unacceptable burden on development for this region.  It also challenges the fundamentals of Seychellois society.  We will continue to fight to allow our people to be able to take advantage of our own natural resources without fear.  The innovative efforts being made to ensure security on locally based fishing vessels is evidence of this.  But the cost of the diverted resources from our people and development is clear.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Climate change continues to be a subject of great concern for all Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and while we have continued to move painfully forward through the Durban platform, a long term legally binding agreement still seems to be on a distant horizon. 

SIDS offer the best laboratories to test new technologies for a more sustainable development model for our planet.  We continue to urge all donors to honour pledges for fast start financing on climate change. And we are also grateful to all our bilateral partners who are looking to develop partnerships with SIDS such as Seychelles on renewable energy and combating climate change.

As we prepare for the Earth Summit in the Rio+20 Summit in June this year, we also ask all our partners to be open to rethink the rules which govern global development.  If we are to speak of true sustainable development we must be prepared to look beyond GDP as the measure of our success.  When Seychelles determines to declare over 50% of its land territory as natural reserves, it is an investment in future generations that cannot be quantified in monetary terms.

Excellences, Mesdames et Messieurs

L’avenir n’est pas un lieu qu’on va atteindre, mais plutôt un lieu qu’on construit et les Seychelles se construisent malgré un contexte de crise mondiale sans précédent. Les événements de l’année écoulée nous ont prouvé qu’aucun pays, qu’il soit grand ou petit, ne peut relever seul les défis parfois titanesques qui se présentent à nous car ces défis sont à la fois complexes et persistants.

Face à l’urgence d’une réponse collective aux défis qui pèsent sur l’humanité, les Seychelles restent engagés dans la poursuite d’un monde uni et solidaire.

Notre jeune nation comprend que pour réussir et pour changer le cours des choses, il faut avoir la volonté d’assurer notre responsabilité, la volonté de chercher des solutions pragmatiques aux problèmes, que nous fassions entendre notre voix et exercer une influence dans les affaires internationales, non pas en faisant la morale ou en constatant simplement ce qui s’est passé, mais en donnant l’exemple et en participant pro activement à la recherche de solutions adéquates.

Notre présidence à  la Commission de l’Océan Indien s’inscrit dans ce contexte de vouloir faire de nos iles - les iles vanilles - un exemple de paix, de coopération et de stabilité.  Notre organisation s’est déjà positionnée comme la seule organisation régionale qui défend les intérêts des Petits Etats Insulaires.  Cette défense correspond non seulement à notre intérêt national, mais encore et surtout à l’intérêt de définir un nouveau modèle de développement pour notre planète.      

Il faut dire à cet égard que les événements récents dans notre ile sœur de Madagascar nous préoccupent.  La COI travaille sans cesse avec ses partenaires pour assurer la mise en œuvre de la Feuille de route de la SADC.  Nous estimons que les dispositions de ce document-cadre demeurent la seule porte de sortie de la crise Malgache qui perdure déjà depuis trop longtemps.

Excellences, Mesdames Messieurs,

Au cours de l’année écoulée, les Seychelles ont renouvelé leur attachement à la famille francophone.  Nous avons commencé des actions concrètes dans le cadre du Pacte Linguistique signé par le Président Michel en 2010.  Nous sommes fiers aussi de diriger le groupe de travail de l’OIF sur ‘le Français dans la vie internationale’.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Over the course of this year, we look forward to working with each and every one of you to strengthen our cooperation.

Through new and innovative means we can enhance the links and exchanges between our peoples.

My ministry will also continue to promote public diplomacy so every Seychellois has a stake and a sense of ownership in our international achievements.

We count on your support to bring our diplomatic efforts closer to the Seychellois people. 

Seychelles has recently concluded visa waiver agreements with Turkey and Brazil, bringing the total number of countries to which Seychellois can travel freely to 74 nations.  We are working to further enhance the opportunities available to Seychellois through such agreements, as well as other agreements that facilitate investments, trade and exchanges between peoples.

As promised, we opened a new Embassy in Abu Dhabi in 2011, and we will continue working towards establishing two new missions over the next two years.

Our Ministry has continued to grow to be able to drive the expansion in the international role that Seychelles is taking on. 

Seychelles is a nation that is open to the world.  We are always willing to learn from our partners.  We also have a lot to offer all our partners.

We are mindful of the contribution we can make.

Before concluding, I would like to make a special tribute to the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who have stepped up to the challenges placed before them with enthusiasm and determination.  They have not hesitated to contribute ideas to make the Ministry more innovative and more relevant in a constantly changing landscape. 

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to raise a toast to your good health, and the continued excellent working relationship that we enjoy with all our partners in Seychelles.  

Thank you for your attention.


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