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Speech by the Designated Minister, Minister for Social Affairs, Community Development and Sports, Vincent Meriton on the occasion of the Official opening of the Sri Lankan High Commission in Seychelles Saturday 28th June 2014

18.07.2014

Today is a truly auspicious occasion for Sri Lanka and Seychelles.

As we warmly welcome President Mahinda Rajapaksa on his second visit to Seychelles, it is with great honour that I extend on behalf of President James Michel, the Government and the People of Seychelles, our heartfelt appreciation to the Government and People of Sri Lanka for this strong expression of confidence in the shared future of our two nations.

The opening of the Sri Lankan High Commission in Seychelles signifies another milestone in the almost 26 years of diplomatic relations between our two countries. It is a reflection of the desire of Sri Lanka and Seychelles to forge closer ties. It demonstrates through the exchange visits of President Rajapaksa President Michel, what can be achieved when two determined island nations are willing to work together.

Sri Lanka will today join 8 other resident diplomatic missions in Seychelles. It is its first in the Indian Ocean and 6th in Africa.  It is a clear testament of Sri Lanka’s commitment to engage with the wider international community. This engagement is critical to achieving global understanding, peace and sustainable development.
On the other hand, this expansion of the diplomatic network based in Seychelles shows OUR readiness and commitment to engage with other countries in finding lasting solutions to challenges facing our globalized world. We believe that we can make a difference. This is why we rely on the support of Sri Lanka to secure a non-permanent seat on the UN SECURITY COUNCIL in 2017/18

The opening of the High Commission is also a sign of the increased engagement BETWEEN OUR two countries; a sign of the deep friendship between our peoples and a common vision to promote our core values and interests.

This High Commission will be the centre of gravity for Sri Lankan tourists, companies and civil society coming to Seychelles. It will also benefit Seychellois planning to visit, study and invest in Sri Lanka.

In diplomacy, nothing can replace people-to-people contacts. It is with this principle in mind that Seychelles will also be opening its resident mission in Colombo by the end of this year. This development will not only create further possibilities for our two countries but also allow us to promote and defend our common interests in an ever changing world. We are aware of the impact that global phenomena can have on island nations. That is why we are at the forefront of efforts to achieve a truly binding agreement that can help curb the impact of climate change on our populations. As a small-island developing state, we are reassured that we can rely on allies like Sri Lanka to help us meet the challenge of achieving a more egalitarian and inclusive global order.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our two countries have made enormous strides over these last decades. We have shared numerous experiences and collaborated in the spirit of mutual respect and friendship. The vibrant and dynamic Sri Lankan community who has made Seychelles its home has played a crucial role in this process.

Remarkable strides have been made in the fields of trade and investment, defence, renewable energy, education and training, legal affairs, health, fisheries and sports and culture.

One such mutually-beneficial development has been the arrival of Mihin Lanka to Seychelles. This, together with the Bank of Ceylon and the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, will bring us a step closer in realizing our vision of making Seychelles Sri Lanka’s gateway to Africa and for Sri Lanka to be a gateway for Seychelles in Asia.

In the sports field we will soon see the fruit of discussions; training of sports administrators, the exchange of teams, delegations and sports specialists in general and particularly within the framework of the IOIG.

In the medical field, we will later witness the official opening of the Nawaloka Medical Centre. This reflects the emphasis we put in ensuring that whatever we do on the diplomatic front makes a positive difference in the lives of our people.

New avenues have also been opened for collaboration in mari-culture and the training of our sea-farers. Agriculture, food security and maritime security are also areas with great potential that we are planning to exploit.

When it comes to our maritime partnership, there is still room for further engagement. We can take on a leadership role in mobilizing the creative energies of the international community in widening the frontiers of development to embrace the vast and limitless potentials of the blue economy.

Seychelles is an ambitious country and our development plans for the future are innovative. Undoubtedly, Sri Lanka is one of the partners who can assist us in promoting this vision as well as contribute in making these aspirations a reality.

It is our hope, that through this new mission, our friendship will endure and grow stronger; that with the High Commissioner, we can deepen our cultural, political and economic relations with Sri Lanka, a country we consider as a major partner of Seychelles.

Let us all give a warm welcome to the High Commissioner Rajatha Piyatissa, who will be an excellent torchbearer for the future of our relationship.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Our Presidents have paved the way for a bright future in our relationship between Sri Lanka and Seychelles. It is up to us to seize the opportunities of the moment and together rise to the challenges that await us.  I thank you.

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