SEYCHELLES AND SPAIN: GIVING A NEW IMPETUS TO OUR RELATIONS
“Today marks a great step forward in the relations between Spain and Seychelles. It is my first visit to Spain and I am convinced that this visit will open a new chapter in our cooperation,“ said President Michel following a meeting with Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero at the Moncloa Palace.
The President said the discussions were a success, as many areas of future partnership were indentified.
“We explored the potential for a comprehensive collaboration of our two countries. We discussed fisheries, piracy and defence cooperation, our economic challenges, and we talked about promoting Seychelles as a tourism destination in Spain, and encouraging Spanish airlines to fly between Madrid and Seychelles.”
The President announced that Seychelles Tourism Board would be opening a tourist office in Madrid, and that it will be engaged in many promotional activities in Spain.
“We have a very strong partnership, with a long history in fisheries cooperation, as Spain is the main fishing nation of the vessels fishing in Seychelles waters.”
President James Michel has said that Seychelles and Spain are working very closely to develop fisheries collaboration, and reinforce defence and anti-piracy.
The President thanked Spain for its aid in the EU NAVFOR Atlanta operation to counter piracy, and said that Seychelles would continue to work alongside Spain to prevent piracy attacks taking place.
“It is the responsibility of the international community and of the countries of the region to address the Somali piracy problem. They must address the lawlessness in Somalia, and help the country to achieve a stable government. Piracy is a result of the problem of Somalia, and we need to address this in order to fix the root of the problem,” said President Michel.
The President put on record his appreciation to Spain for its support in the Paris Club negotiations and for the efforts made by Spain to re-schedule our bilateral debt despite Spain’s own challenges. Seychelles appreciates the role played by Spain in supporting the notion that middle income countries like Seychelles needed to be accompanied in their development progress in order to sustain their development objectives. Both countries agreed to continue to work together on this front in the multilateral context.
The President also spoke to Prime Minister Zapatero about opportunities for Spanish investment in fisheries and tourism projects in Seychelles. Climate change and the need for renewable energy sources were also on the table of discussion. Spain has said that it will send a technical mission to Seychelles to study the possibilities of the use of solar power on the islands.
“We know that Spain is a leader in renewable energy, and we are also a country that is a leader in environmental protection, therefore collaborating with Spain to develop this renewable energy will help our country to remain one of the greenest in the world.”
Seychelles and Spain signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation, and a second MOU on Fisheries Cooperation. This was followed by the signing of a Declaration of Intentions in the Fight Against Piracy. The agreements were signed by Seychelles Minister for Home Affairs, Environment and Transport Mr. Joël Morgan, and the Spanish Minister for Defence Mrs. Carmen Chacón.
“ Spain is our prime partner. These agreements will help us to consolidate our partnership and extend our collaboration,” said President Michel following the ceremony.
KING OF SPAIN RECEIVES PRESIDENT MICHEL
President James Michel has had an audience with His Majesty King Juan Carlos I of Spain. The meeting took place at the Zarzuela Palace, during the working visit of the President to Madrid.
“Our meeting was exceptional. It is one of the longest audiences granted by the King, and we discussed many issues of mutual interest, cooperation, the special friendship between the Republic of Seychelles and the Kingdom of Spain,” said President Michel following the meeting with the King.
“The King is very interested in the progress Seychelles in making, and we spoke about the developments in our society, economy and trade, as well as the common security interest we share in the Indian Ocean.”
The King took particular interest in the beauty of the islands and about increasing Spanish visitors to our shores, developing more economic and business cooperation and fostering greater people to people contact, noting our mutual love for football.
The two Heads of States discussed strategies to getting more international agreement and consensus on subjects as wide as the need to bring back law and order to Somalia, and eradicating piracy, on climate change and how the two countries could work together.
“We both have tourism as the number one pillar of our economies; we share important fisheries concerns, have important coastal lines and archipelagoes and could therefore work closer with each other and in trilateral and multilateral contexts for the benefit of our respective countries and of other countries like us.”
The President attended a luncheon at the royal palace in the private company of the King and Queen Sofia of Spain.