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Speech by Jean-Paul Adam on the occasion of the 11th Meeting f Council of Ministers of the Indian Ocean Rim Association of Regional Cooperation, Bengaluru (Bangalore), 15th November 2011

23.11.2011

Chairman, H.E Mr. S.M Krishna, Minister of External Affairs of the Republic of India,

Vice Chair, H.E Mr. Kevin Rudd, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia,

Outgoing Chairman, H.E Mr. Abu Bakar Ali Qurbi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Yemen

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Seychelles is very proud to be here today to be able to rejoin its friends and neighbours in the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation.  As a small island developing state, the Indian Ocean Rim represents for us our conduit for our development in partnership with our region. 

The Indian Ocean is our platform that can allow a small state such as ours to be able to better weather the vagaries of globalisation.  And it is clear that we cannot turn globalisation into an opportunity without working closely with those with whom we share this ocean.

I would like to seize the opportunity to thank our hosts, the Government of India, the city of Bangalore (Bengaluru) and the State Government of Karnataka for the warmth of their hospitality and their welcome.  To have this meeting in the Silicon Valley of India is symbolic of the global power already being wielded by our region, as well as a further reminder of the opportunities for increased cooperation amongst ourselves.

I would also like to congratulate the Government of Australia on assuming the Vice Chairmanship.  As Australia looks West, we know that we can strengthen the bridges across our ocean.

Let me also salute the work of the Government of Yemen for its work as outgoing chair of this organisation.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to thank all member states of IOR-ARC and all ministers present today for their support for Seychelles to be re-admitted as a member.  We are touched by your solidarity and support, and we are determined to work with you as a committed and reliable partner.

The need for cooperation among states of our region is more relevant than ever.  We all may be members of other regional groupings, but the Indian Ocean connects us in a fundamental way that goes beyond political groupings.

It is a shared space that we must work together to use positively and productively.

The Indian Ocean is also a space that connects us to the world.  It is a critical space for world trade.  Over two thirds of the world’s shipped oil goes through the Indian Ocean, and over half of the world’s container traffic.

One of the biggest challenges we face is that of maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia.  This is an Indian Ocean problem, and a global problem. 

The cost of insurance for shipping is becoming unsustainable.  Ultimately it is consumers that suffer the most, and we are all conscious of the threat of rising commodity prices, particularly for our region.  

Piracy has challenged our ability to secure the Indian Ocean.  It has challenged our ability to protect and develop our maritime resources, and our oceans as highways for trade. 

We need to do everything in our power to ensure that our ocean can continue to connect the world.  It must be a development space and not a space for anarchy.

Allow me to stress a few points that we must pursue to ensure that the problem does not further spiral out of control:

  1. We need more engagement on Somalia- with more resources for institution building as well as more efforts in ensuring security on the land
  2. We must ensure that the response to piracy is robust- both in terms of maritime intervention, and in terms of prosecution of pirates- we must end the sense of impunity associated with piracy- and we need more support for the littoral states to do this.
  3. We must go after those who are financing piracy.  If we are able to disrupt those who are attempting to make a profit from criminal gains, we will be tackling the problem at the highest level

On this point, I would like to thank the Government of India for its determined and pro-active actions in the fight against piracy, and we also look forward to the proposed meeting on piracy that the Government of Australia has offered to host next year.  Seychelles is being very proactive in the fight against piracy- including through the prosecution of pirates and the setting up of a regional intelligence sharing centre with the support of the IMO.  I must also take this opportunity to recognise the strong support of the United Arab Emirates in the fight against piracy with the opening of a new Coast Huard Base for Seychelles last Friday equipped with long range radar.

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen,

For island states such as ours, the Indian Ocean is also a key part of our economic pillars, whether it be tourism or fisheries.  The Blue economy is key to our development.  And in Seychelles, we are always conscious that without environmental protection- these two pillars can become worthless overnight.

Our cooperation in the Indian Ocean must also look at the key environmental challenges that we share.  We are one of the few oceans that still have viable fishing grounds- but without proper action against illegal and unreported fishing, we will make the same mistakes as others have done before.

We welcome the setting up of a fisheries support unit in Oman which will contribute enormously to improve our cooperation in this sector.

Seychelles has taken the unprecedented step to declare 50% of its land territory as protected areas- the highest proportion in the world.  We are also looking to improve and strengthen protection of our marine protected areas. 

Through cooperation amongst ourselves on conservation, climate change adaptation and other and environmental issues, we can create new opportunities for tourism development, while also redefining the concept of sustainable development for the benefit of our peoples.

Mr. Chairman,

We believe that IOR-ARC offers a framework for coordination and cooperation which encompasses our whole region- and which can build on the experiences and practices of other sub-regional groupings.  Seychelles has recently taken up the chairmanship of the Indian Ocean Commission- a grouping of the islands of the South Western part of our ocean. 

The IOC has already established strong cooperation programmes in terms of the environment and maritime trade and security which go beyond its membership.  IOR-ARC can play a critical role in ensuring that best practices are shared over a wider sphere.

It is to be noted that a key component of sustainability is energy security. Despite the fact that our region does produce large quantities of oil, all of our countries are still badly affected by fluctuating energy prices.  Renewable energy offers us an interesting perspective both as a means of sustainably addressing our energy needs, and also creating new business, investment and trade opportunities within our region. 

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, 

Once again I would like to express our appreciation to all present for their support for Seychelles’ re-admission.  

This organisation is a natural home for us.  And being in the middle of this ocean, we connect the rim with its centre.  We are so pleased to be here, and we look forward to working with all partners in the future.

Thank you for your attention.

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