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OPENING STATEMENT BY JEAN-PAUL ADAM, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF SEYCHELLES, ON BEHALF OF PRESIDENT JAMES A. MICHEL, PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE REPUBLIC OF SEYCHELLES AT THE EAST AFRICAN STANDBY FORCE (EASF) POLICY ORGANS

24.10.2014

Your Excellencies, Ministers of Defense and Heads of Delegation of the EASF,

Chiefs of Defense and Heads of Police,

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to address this opening on behalf of President James Michel and the government and people of the Republic of Seychelles.

We warmly welcome all Ministers and delegates to this landmark meeting of the East African Standby Force.

It is a meeting which is ground breaking- both for our region and for Africa.

I have described today’s event in these terms because the decisions taken here in Seychelles will transform the EASF into an operational structure.

The focus of this extra-ordinary meeting of this policy organ is to fast-track the force into full operational capability by the end of this year instead of 2015. Therefore this meeting symbolizes the determination of the Eastern African region to move into higher gear on security matters.

We are happy that Seychelles is able to be your host for this most symbolic moment for all of us.

As a Small Island Developing State, we are conscious more than most of the value of shared security.  With 1.3 million sq.km of Exclusive Economic Zone- Seychelles’ security is one which must be built on strong and durable partnerships, such as this one.

And in this UN international year of Small Island Developing States, Seychelles has adopted its national theme as “a determined island nation”- recognizing that despite the challenges of size and geography- we also can contribute significantly to resolve global and regional challenges.

The operationalisation of the EASF represents an African solution to a global problem.

Increasingly, security threats know no national frontier. In fact terrorism and transnational crime have ridden on global technological advances to an unprecedented extent.

The security profile has changed significantly over the last few years with the coming into play of non-state actors, namely rebels, terrorists but also private military security contractors, the increasing importance of transnational-organised crimes, and cyber criminality along with criminal use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials (CBRN), all  altering the sources and nature of security threats.

The global nature of security threats imply that they are not only land-based but also extend to the vast expanses of our ocean.

Piracy has shown us how our sea lanes can be held to ransom by criminal profiteers.

Seychelles chose to act decisively in combating this threat and I would also like to record our appreciation to all our partners in EASF and beyond that have helped to place this scourge under control.

But it is clear that piracy is but one facet of a much wider maritime security challenge for our region.

Drug trafficking, arms trafficking, people trafficking, illegal fishing and terrorism are some of the threats that exploit the open sea as a highway of criminality.  By usurping our sea-routes, they further undermine the fabric of our respective sovereignty as nations.

We must redouble our efforts to combat them.

Insecurity in the oceans means lack of connectivity into the global trade network leading to disruption of supply chains, difficulty of access to export markets and imports. The security of our region has a maritime dimension irrespective of whether our respective countries are oceanic, coastal or landlocked states because sea-routes must remain safe and the resources that abound in the Indian Ocean must generate economic opportunities for the whole population of our region.

To this end, security is an indispensable feature of the development of the blue economy initiative which is itself a major driver of Seychelles’ active diplomacy.

To better make use of our ocean for the purposes of development- we must first secure it.

Ladies and gentlemen,

East Africa is one of the world’s fastest-growing regional economies offering abundant opportunities across a wide range of sectors. The vast reserves of natural resources combined with the human resources of that region could generate revenue streams that will boost consumer purchasing power elevating the standard of living of our populations. Unfortunately, security threats from terrorist groups like al-Shabbab constitute a hindrance to the development of our region.  Our countries have done well in fending off the threats coming from terrorists, armed rebel groups and pirates but we need to shift the security equation.

We need to move from a reactive to a pro-active mode.

We need to not only be resilient, and to be able to bounce back.

We need to be more risk resistant at the start.

This can be done if we pre-empt the moves of those forces that pose a threat to our security and eventually cause conflicts in our region.

Pre-emptive security is a deliverable of intelligence.

Cognizant of this relationship between intelligence and security, Seychelles welcomes the recent proposal of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to create a forum that will get countries of the Indian Ocean region, which includes many member-states of EASF, to share information on Transnational-Organised Crimes which constitute a source of insecurity. We welcome the creation of this forum because we see it as a structure that could complement and enhance an intelligence gathering mechanism that Seychelles has put into place, the Regional Fusion and Law Enforcement Centre for Safety and Security at Sea.

The Regional Fusion and Law Enforcement Centre for Safety and Security at Sea represents an effort to build on experience garnered from fighting piracy using the arms of intelligence by extending it to other forms of Trans-Organised Crimes like drugs, illegal arms trade and trafficking in persons. We welcome EASF countries to join Reflecs3 for improved security of our region.  We also hope that this meeting can allow us to further enhance and discuss ways of improving our information sharing and intelligence sharing in our region.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Seychelles is committed to the ideals of the African Union, and the principles of collective security enshrined in the operationalisation of our Standby Force.

Seychelles does not have battalions in its armed forces.  We cannot deploy in the same way that bigger and better equipped nations can.

But we are pleased to bring our contribution to the table nonetheless, and I am pleased that we will be committing 10 military officers and 10 police officers in the coming year to facilitate the work of the secretariat of our organization.

In addition, I am pleased to announce that Seychelles will also be in a position to deploy its coastal refueling tanker, the “Seychelles Paradise” to provide logistical support to deployments of EASF in the future.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would also like to acknowledge the presence amongst us of the Friends of EASF and in the same breath point out that this partnership between the Eastern Africa region and the Nordic region underlines the holistic dimension of security. Security is a component of development; as economic prosperity and social well-being are the dividends of a just peace: meaning peace in an environment of a fair distribution of wealth and prosperity.

As a country whose progress is grounded in the principle of human-centred development, Seychelles subscribes to this relationship between security and well-being.

Earlier I said that EASF represents an African solution to a global problem.

Seychelles is a firm believer that in this day and age of globalization no problem is too big for any country, and no country is too small for any problem.

Because all problems can be addressed by countries coming together.  This is what EASF represents for us.

Although we are the smallest member-state of EASF and the African Union and one of the smallest countries in the world, Seychelles will not shirk its moral obligation to contribute to the emergence of a more secure region, and a safer world.

We see this effort as being part of a more inclusive view of development and security; one that widens the security agenda by incorporating new, but critical elements such as climate change mitigation and peace-building into it.

Excellences, Mesdames et messieurs,

 

Pour conclure, permettez-moi de vous réitérer toute la reconnaissance des Seychelles pour le soutien et la confiance que vous lui avez prêtés en lui confiant l’organisation de cette réunion si importante pour la sécurité collective de notre région.  Ce soutien et cette confiance nous honorent et je voudrais que vous en soyez remercié.

En jetant un coup d’œil à l’horizon, au delà de cette plage de Beau Vallon, s’allonge devant nous l’Océan Indien, notre océan,  cet espace marin qui nous offre cette passerelle d’amitié et de coopération, mais qui nous rappelle aussi à chaque instant, que nous avons notre sécurité en partage. C’est cela qui me renforce aussi dans la conviction que votre démarche collective et la synergie de vos intelligences, participeront sans aucun doute au renforcement des efforts pour l’émergence d’une région plus forte, plus solidaire et plus prospère."

 

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Seychelles is also celebrating at this time its annual Creole Festival- and I very much look forward to also make the most of this occasion to share with you our Creole hospitality, and the vibrancy and diversity of our Culture. Nou akey zot parmi nou a sa moman avek bokou lazwa pour selebre ansanm nou Kreolite.

On that note, I have great honour and privilege in declaring this meeting open and wishing us all, fruitful deliberations.

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