Minister Morgan officially opens the AU-EU Ministerial Meeting to explore lessons learnt
The AU-EU Ministerial meeting on Maritime Safety and Security, convened under themed ?Lessons Learnt?, was officially launched at the Savoy Spa & Resort on Sunday 8th February by an opening speech from the newly appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs and Transport Joel Morgan.
Minister Morgan officially launched the meeting, highlighting the importance of joint-ventures and regional co-operation as the the driving force for tackling piracy and other illicit activities threatening the security and safety of African maritime spaces.
The Republic of Seychelles has made dealing with seafaring threats a national priotrity as a critical component to preserving development initiatives such as the ?Blue Economy?.
??Piracy appeared over our horizons, and had become a concern affecting global commerce as it did, that one shudders to think what would have happened to Seychelles if our government had not stepped up and acted so decisively,? said Minister Morgan.
Seychelles? decision of involving and participating in acting against this global threat includes placing an information sharing and fusion center with the help of several international partners known as the Regional Fusion and Law Enforcement Centre for Safety and Security at Sea (REFLECS3). The focus has tilted from not only piracy alone but to other illegal maritime activities thus enabling Seychelles and other International stakeholders to have a broader mission. ?The Minister also cited the need to address the root causes fueling illicit activities in countries such as Somalia, and the need to support good governance and economic growth, citing Seychelles? engegment in offering fisheries management training to Somali authorities.
?The Seychelles is where it is at today because of how we responded then and because of the prompt support and good will extended to us and the region.? We did not give up our responsibility, rather we rallied, and we stepped up, contributed and delivered tangible results,? add the Minister.
While thanking all the international partners and the regional community for their invaluable support, the Minister also emphasized the detriments of piracy to the global commerce and the importance of the continued engagement of international partners:
?It is our firm belief that a total withdrawal [of international partners] in 2016 would leave a vacuum not easily replaced and with current events as they are, their departure would leave us all exposed.??
The disengagement of International co-operation in terms of military assistance and intelligence in the Indian Ocean region scheduled for 2016 will put a strain on the long time efforts in protecting and defending the waters surrounding the African continent. This includes the termination of EUVNAFOR Atalanta project announced by the EU, as expressed by the Minister, will create a vacuum and may leave piracy to become a recurring problem for not only the Seychelles but the whole international community.
The Minister concluded by appealing to the EU to reconsider its decision in the disengagement of the EUNAVFOR Atalanta project and called on all partner relationships to be further solidified rather than dissolved.