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Conference of Seychelles Honorary Consuls Opening Speech by President James A Michel 23 October 2007

23.10.2007

It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this important conference of Seychelles Honorary Consuls and wish you a productive, rewarding and pleasant stay.

I would like at the outset to express the deep appreciation of the government and people of Seychelles for the positive contribution you are making in promoting Seychelles' interests in your respective countries and regions.

You have individually and collectively provided an avenue for Seychelles to expand and strengthen its bilateral relations with a wide range of countries.

Over the years you have accomplished much and have acted with an ever increasing sense of your responsibilities. At the same time, I wish to urge you to fresh endeavours in order to meet the new tasks and challenges that lie ahead.

Indeed, much has happened within Seychelles over the past two and a half years.

While I know that you will be kept very much engaged over the next three days, at the same time I urge you to use this opportunity to have a first hand grasp of the various developments taking place across our country.

You will get the feel and thrust and understanding of policy changes, strategies and the future developmental orientations of the country which you are entrusted to represent at consular level.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 2006 was a significant year for Seychelles as it marked the 30th anmversary of our Independence.

It also marked a continued and enviable movement forward for Seychelles on the ladder of the United Nations Human Development index.

Seychelles achieved high visibility on the international stage.

The Presidential election in July 2006 and the parliamentary election in mid 2007 provided a particular focus for the international and diplomatic community.

Regional and international organisations present in Seychelles on those two occasions underscored the high level of interest in and support to the democratic process in Seychelles.

In paving the way for a more dynamic and pro-active economy, the vision of the future of Seychelles, 'Strategy 2017' was launched earlier this year.

Throughout the next ten years, my Government is committed to work as the economic facilitator and, together with the private sector, to stimulate productivity and double the Gross Domestic Product.

With the existing expansion programmes in tourism and fisheries, we are looking at ways and means to develop the emerging financial services industry both as support to our focal economic sectors and as a powerful additional economic motor, increasing productivity.

Just a few months ago, we attained a new height in the history of our country, when the 'University of Seychelles Foundation' was inaugurated, kicking-off the establishment of the first 'University of Seychelles'.

The initiative is centred on development of our human resources capacity, intellectually empowering our people with the knowledge and skills that will permit our micro-sized nation to advance in the world economy and progress as a knowledge-based society.

A high-quality establishment is not built overnight, and it cannot be shaped and sustained by a solitary hand.

Extensive resources are needed to configure the institution, and to add value and preserve its merits; we need to secure affiliations with accredited partners.

My Government will spare no effort to secure support from all partners, both locally and internationally.

We need to seek and seize all opportunities.

It is incumbent on us all to make the University of Seychelles a reality.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Seychelles' progressive edge lies in uniting domestic and foreign strategies.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs will outline to you his ministry's role, the vision of Seychelles and the country's development agenda.

You need to be aware of the new trends, ideas and forces that are shaping our foreign policy.

However, at this stage I wish to point out that our international relations are being redynamised through the enhancement of our presence overseas.

Our representation is expanding with plans to cover all 5 continents of North and South America, Africa, Asia and Europe.

This is visible through the opening of new diplomatic missions in Rome, Beijing, Pretoria and - in the not too distant future - India, in addition to those already in existence in New York, Paris and Brussels.

We have decided to reinforce the personnel of all those missions in order to enable them to playa result-oriented role in bilateral, regional and international affairs.

As a small nation, we need to gain more visibility and credibility in the international arena.

Our vulnerabilities and challenges should motivate us even more, to stand taller and speak louder as we battle our cause with other nations.

We have taken the unprecedented move of inviting to Seychelles former diplomats in a bid to set up an association of "Friends of Seychelles".

I welcome Ambassador Marcel Surbiguet who is with us today.

Since April this year, Seychelles assumed the presidency of the Indian Ocean Commission.

It is both an honour for our people and a responsibility for my Government.

For me, it is a results-based personal engagement.

Seychelles is holding this presidency with great determination, looking to actively and pro-actively instigate a new vigour within the IOC.

During our chairmanship, it is our goal to unify the spirit of the Commission.

2 We also have Seychellois representation at the United Nation's Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. Ladies and Gentlemen, End 2006, Seychelles consolidated its relationship with major economic partners such as the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the European Investment Bank, after we cleared a substantial portion of our arrears.

The confidence and trust of our key partners in development is now secured.

The appointment of Seychellois, Peter Sinon, as Executive Director to the Board of Directors at the African Development Bank in May this year is a symbol of the renewed dynamism in Seychelles-ADB co-operation.

Seychelles is presently, strategically placed to deepen economic relations and maximize potential gains in the Bank's efforts to address arising issues in Africa. I understand you will be coming up with a roadmap at the end of this meeting.

This Roadmap is ambitious.

Our Foreign Policy is ambitious.

We also have to be ambitious in terms of the results we need to achieve and delivery on the ground.

The Roadmap is the first of its kind for the Consuls.

It contains a vision, which is focused on defending, promoting and protecting Seychelles interest. It can also be regarded as benchmarks against which you could check progress and adjustments that could be made in your work. Mesdames et Messieurs les Consuls, Cette feuille de route est en effet ambitieuse.

C'est la nécessaire traduction de toutes les actions politiques, économiques et diplomatiques dans une vision de synthèse pour notre pays.

Je me félicite qu'elle reconnaisse l'importance des enjeux culturels comme catalyseur d'activité, de croissance et d'emploi.

Quel meilleur ôte, pour une telle rencontre qu'un festival -Ie Festival Kreol qui célèbre chaque année, toute la richesse et toute la diversité de notre culture, de notre patrimoine et du monde créole.

Je crois en effet que ce sont des événements comme celui-ci qui inspirent et justifient notre volonté de faire de la Culture, un élément central de notre politique de développement.

Et parce que la Culture est au coeur de notre identité, elle doit être au coeur de notre action diplomatique.

11 s'agit de faire vivre la richesse de notre culture, de favoriser son expression, de la faire se rencontrer, dialoguer, au sein des pays dans lesquels vous exercez vos fonctions.

Souvenons no us de Jean Monnet, l'un des pères fondateurs de l'Europe qui regrettait que la construction européenne ait commence par la coopération autour du charbon et de l'acier, et non pas de la culture, ce qui eut pourtant développe Ie sentiment d'appartenance au même ensemble humain et économique.

3 Mesdames et Messieurs les Consuls, Je sais que je peux compter sur vous pour relever tous ces défis, par des propositions concrètes, originales et innovantes servant avec pertinence et de fa~on opportune la cause de la culture Seychelloise.

Ces mesures s'inscrivent dans la politique forte que nous menons pour renforcer la compétitivité, la productivité, l'image et Ie rayonnement de notre pays.

Dans un monde qui change sans cesse, nous devons continuer a préparer I' avenir et pour cela mobiliser toutes nos compétences, tous nos talents, toutes nos énergies.

Je connais votre motivation.

Je connais aussi les qualités et les atouts qui sont les vôtres.

Vous êtes, les relais privilégies des Seychelles.

Vous participez a la vie de notre pays, et vous êtres a ce titre, les artisans de la coopération entre les Seychelles et vos pays respectifs.

Votre action de terrain est évidemment indispensable pour construire des relations bilatérales solides et concrètes.

Je vous invite a continuer sur cette lancée, a j oindre vos efforts aux nôtres, dans l'intérêt de notre pays qui ne demande qu'a grandir et a se développer d'avantage.

Merci de travailler a nos cotes.

Je compte sur chacun d'entre vous.

C'est un contrat de confiance que je passe avec chacun d'entre vous en particulier.

Je vous remercie de votre attention.

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