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Speech by President James A Michel at Banquet Hosted by Dr The Honourable Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius....12 March 2012

13.03.2012

Your Excellency Dr The Honourable Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius, and Madam Veena Ramgoolam,

Honourable Speaker of Parliament,
Your Lordship The Chief Justice,
Honourable Deputy Prime Ministers,
Honourable Leader of the Opposition,

Honourable Ministers, 
Your Excellencies, 
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

There are few relationships as strong as that that exists between our two island nations. 

Yet, while our friendship has remained constant much has changed, and is constantly changing in the world.

In the face of this global turbulence, it is natural that we further look to strengthen our partnership with those closest to us so that we may better survive the shifting tides of the global economy.

Ladies and gentlemen, 

I am here to suggest to you that now is the time to nourish and deepen our relationship, to take new steps together, to look to the future not just as friends, but as partners with inseparable interests, as small island developing states determined to act together to make a difference in the world.

On the occasion of Mauritius 44th anniversary of its independence, it gives me great pleasure to share this moment with you.  I would like to congratulate the Mauritian people, as well as Sir Anerood Jugnauth, President of Mauritius, and the Hon. Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam, on this further milestone in the road of development as well as their determination to continue to live the values that have made Mauritius such a strong friend of Seychelles, and such an invaluable regional partner.  

Our two countries share so many historical, cultural and social bonds. 

We are both countries that have forged cohesive, pluralistic societies out of ethnically, spiritually and linguistically diverse populations.  

We are both committed members of the Indian Ocean Commission, the Commonwealth, La Francophonie and a number of other international organisations.

We are both staunch defenders of the cause of Small Island Developing States on the global stage.

And we are, sadly, both countries that have been affected by the scourge of piracy and the effects of climate change.

My approach towards Seychelles’ foreign policy is to first and foremost build a strong and prosperous circle of islands in the Indian Ocean. 

Our relations with Mauritius, both bilaterally and regionally, are of the utmost importance.

Those relations are reinforced by the close bonds between Prime Minister Ramgoolam and myself. There is an open line of communication between us. We consult often. We share similar views on a wide range of issues of mutual interest. And we speak with one voice where the interests of our countries and region are concerned. Tonight, I pay tribute to the visionary leadership of my friend, Navin, and express to him my gratitude for his support and for the exemplary partnership between our two countries.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As the centre of gravity of the world economy swings towards the East, Indian Ocean nations like Mauritius and Seychelles have much to gain.  We are the natural harbours that can provide shelter from the storm.  We are the stepping-stones between East and West. 

Increased trade and economic exchanges are the means by which we can propel our region to even greater heights.

I am confident that my visit to Mauritius and that of Prime Minister Ramgoolam during our national day this June, if possible, will give added impetus to our endeavours for closer ties in all spheres vital for our development.

Contacts between our two countries continue to multiply, whether through our Joint Commission, or through our participation in the Indian Ocean Commission.  And we continue to explore new and innovative exchanges in tourism, fisheries, health, education, legal and financial services.

Ladies and gentlemen,

With the Rio +20 Conference on Sustainable Development just around the corner, our mutual support is even more critical.  The last 20 years have yet to truly deliver any global mechanisms that facilitate true sustainable development.  The project to bring about ‘Maurice, Ile Durable’ is commendable.  We need the means within the international development architecture to support such initiatives.

We need to mobilise the potential of the blue and green economy for the benefit of our peoples.  The agreements we are signing to extend our shared continental shelf, are a ground-breaking example of how two island nations can work together, and harness the true powers of the ocean for development.

These agreements are examples of sustainability for the world! It is also the first time that two countries have reached agreement on such a critical issue without going through arbitration.

As members of the Indian Ocean Commission, we also renew our commitment to fight together against the shared threat of piracy.  We are all paying the price for the continuation of the impunity of pirates, as commodity prices continue to rise, and the cost of shipping becomes completely unsustainable for our economies. 

We also reiterate our commitment to support the implementation of the SADC roadmap on Madagascar, and reinforce the peace and security of our region.

Finally, we must also resolve to launch a new era in cooperation and exchanges on tourism.  We have much more to gain from cooperation than competition.  Rest assured of my support for a strong regional strategy that strengthens the capacity of all our islands. 

Seychelles and Mauritius have so much to offer each other and the world. So let us resolve to work together, to grow together and together seize the opportunities that will help us realize a brighter and even more prosperous future.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Please rise and join me in a toast to the good health and prosperity of Dr The Honourable Navinchandra Ramgoolam and Madam Veena Ramgoolam, and to the excellent ties of friendship and cooperation between Mauritians and Seychellois.

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