CIRCLE OF FRIENDS OF THE INDIAN OCEAN EXPANDS
President James Michel has arrived in Colombo in the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to undertake a state visit. This is the first state visit of a Seychellois head of state to Sri Lanka.
The President is accompanied by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jean-Paul Adam, the Minister for Natural Resources and Industry, Peter Sinon, the Seychelles High Commissioner to India who is accredited to Sri Lanka, Waven William, the Acting Director General for Trade in the Ministry of Finance and Trade, Charles Morin, the Chairperson of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority, David Savy as well as the Chairperson of the Fishing Boat Owners Association, Beatty Hoareau.
On his arrival in Colombo, the President was honoured with a ceremony at the Presidential Secretariat with the presidential salute of the Guard of Honour of the Sri Lankan Navy and the 21-gun salute of the Sri Lankan Army.
President Michel held a tête-à-tête with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaska, followed by bilateral discussions with President Rajapaksa and members of his government.
“This visit will provide impetus for further development of cooperation of our already excellent relationship. We are both Indian Ocean countries, we need to build and expand our circle of friendship in our ocean. It is our ocean, let us ensure that we assume our ownership and protect our resources…. We need to reinforce our cooperation in fisheries, maritime security, education and health as well as increase trade and investment between our countries” said President Michel during the meeting.
President Michel noted the strong historical links between Seychelles and Sri Lanka, especially as a large number of Sri Lankan teachers have contributed to the Seychelles education system in the last thirty years, as well as the current important contributions to society being made by Sri Lankan legal experts.
President Michel also commended President Rajapaksa on the progress that has been made to resolve conflict in Sri Lanka after 30 years of war, and the steps taken for reconciliation between aggrieved parties.
The two Heads of State witnessed the signing of four Memoranda of Understanding on bilateral cooperation between the Republic of Seychelles and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
The first agreement was signed with a view to establishing and strengthening exchange and cooperation in the field of health, between the two countries.
The second agreement is for various forms of co-operation in education, such as teacher recruitment, training and student exchanges.
The third agreement seeks to regulate the employment of Sri Lankan manpower in the Republic of Seychelles, in accordance with relevant laws and procedures applied in the two countries and through applications made between the two governments.
The four agreement concerns bilateral cooperation in the field of legal affairs, particularly legal drafting and the recruitment of legal experts from Sri Lanka.
The agreements were signed by the Seychelles Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jean-Paul Adam, and the Sri Lankan Minister for External Affairs, Professor G.L Peiris, as well as the Sri Lankan Minister for Education , Bandula Gunawardane, and the Sri Lankan Minister for Foreign Employment and Welfare, Dilan Perera.
• The President first made reference to the approach in Seychelles’ foreign policy as ‘to first and foremost build a strong and prosperous circle of islands in the Indian Ocean,’ during his state visit to Mauritius in March this year.
• Seychelles Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean Paul Adam visited Sri Lanka in April this year and held discussions with his counterpart Professor G.L Peiris.