Meeting with the Resident Diplomatic Corps
19th Nov 2020
President Wavel Ramkalawan’s opening remarks
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and gentlemen.
It is my pleasure to welcome you to State House and to be able to formally meet you as distinguished representatives of your respective countries and organisations.
Thank you for accepting our invitation.
It was my wish to meet with you as soon as possible after my assumption of office but that has not been possible on account of the unavoidable delay in the assumption of office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism.
First of all, the Seychellois people owe each one of the countries and government that you represent, a debt of gratitude and deep appreciation for the support that you have given Seychelles over the years, and more particularly during this unprecedented and challenging times that we are all going through.
I also wish to express our appreciation to those countries that are funding the multilateral institutions that are finding ways to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 virus. I urge everyone to continue their support, as indeed I seek the support of other multilateral institutions such as the Commonwealth, l’Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, the UN Agencies, and many others, as small states like Seychelles benefit greatly from these organisations.
Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
Last month, Seychelles experienced a peaceful transition of power following Presidential and Legislative elections. Former President Danny Faure and I share the same objective; that of putting Seychelles first and working tirelessly for national reconciliation and unity. Seychelles is rightfully proud of the example it has set for our sub-region, our continent and the wider world.
The government that I have the honour to lead, remains committed to furthering and deepening relations with the countries represented here today, as indeed with the wider international community. My government remains similarly keen to explore all avenues of cooperation with friends and partners for our mutual benefits.
We need to continue working together on common challenges such as those relating to climate change, the environment, the fight against organized crimes including drugs, arms, terrorism and human trafficking, to name but a few. Practical support to Seychelles in dealing with maritime threats, including blue crimes, which will effectively boost our maritime security through capacity building of our law enforcement agencies, remain vital and we hope that these are further enhanced. These will form part of our key foreign policy priorities which will include:
i. Obtaining necessary financial resources to assist our recovery from the pandemic;
ii. Renegotiating our foreign debt obligations;
iii. Engaging with international development partners to fund new initiatives to boost economic activity;
iv. Sourcing assistance for Seychelles adaptation to threats from climate change, among others, while being fully engaged in protecting our environment.
There is a continuous need for capacity building in all sectors of our economy. We hope that we can continue to look to you for support in this.
We recognize the need for us to accelerate our drive for clean, renewable energy to help in giving Seychelles a unique selling point as a “green tourism destination”, increasingly favoured by tourists.
The Covid-19 pandemic is hitting all our countries very hard. However, it is a well-known fact that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like Seychelles, with their extremely limited resource base and high degree of economic openness, are being hit the hardest. Seychelles’ economic outlook is, to be brutally frank, dire.
In my address to the National Assembly on Tuesday, I announced a series of measures that we will need to take. These include the restructuring of our diplomatic representation abroad.
It is clear that, for the foreseeable future, Seychelles will be unable to maintain its currently 11 overseas diplomatic posts. We are compelled to suspend three of them by the end of the year: These are our embassies in Havana, Cuba and Colombo, Sri Lanka, as well as our representation office to the UN agencies in Geneva. I wish to assure His Excellency the Ambassador of Cuba and the Acting High Commissioner of Sri Lanka that this has been a very difficult decision but one that needed to be taken in the current difficult circumstances the country finds itself in.
I wish to thank your respective governments for your understanding and assure them that we remain committed to the further enhancement of our bilateral relations. We will only have to do this through other means. We will review this decision as soon as our economic circumstances permit.
Over the years, Seychelles has made progress in many areas, including improving the socio-economic conditions of our people, in maritime security, the blue economy, environmental protection, and responsiveness towards our international obligations. Our country has consistently recorded a high level of development indicators and, in some particular instances related to a small island state, was considered a model for the rest of the world. We recognize that our success is partly due to the generosity, support, and solidarity of our global partners and for making judicious use of the assistance we have received. The hard work that we have put into building this nation and the achievements gained are today being threatened by the fallout from this pandemic which also compounds existing challenges like climate change that we are grappling with as it diverts resources from pressing priorities. Faced with this sudden and unprecedented global crisis and its attendant economic meltdown, our vulnerabilities have worsened. More than ever, we need the support of the international community to sustain our achievements.
Small Islands Developing States are particularly vulnerable to external shocks and this is why Seychelles is advocating for adaptation of a Vulnerability Index and easier access to concessionary funding, especially during times of a crisis.
Seychelles has appealed to multilateral institutions and international organisations such as the IMF and the World Bank to consider revisiting some of their policies, so as to enable easier access to concessionary funding for Small Islands Developing States. I appeal to the Member States of these organisations to support such initiatives.
Seychelles remains committed to meeting our targets related to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Comme vous l’avez certainement déjà noté, cette rencontre s’inscrit dans le prolongement naturel d’un long chemin parcouru ensemble, auquel je souhaite ouvrir, pour l’avenir, des nouvelles perspectives.
Je salue bien volontiers tous ceux qui de près ou de loin travaillent déjà dans cette perspective car leur travail permet de souligner encore l’étroitesse et la permanence des liens privilégiés et amicaux que nous partageons. C’est l’occasion pour moi de saluer l’élan de solidarité, le dévouement et les contributions inestimables que vous avez apportés au développement socio-économique de notre pays. Les Seychelles sont réellement fières et sont honorées de travailler avec vous.
Dans ce contexte, j’ai particulièrement apprécié les divers soutiens que vous avez apportés à nos structures nationales de gestion de la crise sanitaire, avec notamment de beaux gestes d’humanité et de solidarité extraordinaires. Je veux que vous en soyez tous remerciés. Merci d’avoir bien voulu vous mobiliser pour suivre nos récentes élections présidentielles et législatives. Votre présence comme observateurs a contribué à renforcer la crédibilité et la transparence de ces scrutins. Je vous suis, à cet égard, très reconnaissant pour les propos très aimables, les félicitations et les vœux de réussite que vous m’avez adressés à l’issue de ma victoire.
C’est l’occasion pour moi de vous rassurer de la détermination de mon Gouvernement de continuer à s’engager avec vos gouvernements et organisations respectifs, dans le but de renforcer davantage nos excellentes relations d’amitié et de coopération pour le bien-être de nos peuples.
Ladies and gentlemen,
You are our valued partners in the development of Seychelles. In my humble self and the government that I lead, you will find reliable, honest partners. I want to reiterate our commitment to continue working with you for the enhancement of our relations and for a fairer, safer and more compassionate world.
Thank you for your attention.