President Ramkalawan gets warm welcome in Austria
President Ramkalawan Meets Austrian counterpart
Vienna, 30th June 2021:President Wavel Ramkalawan arrived in the Austrian capital of Vienna yesterday at the start of a 3-day official visit to the landlocked European nation.
President Ramkalawan who is heading a 3-person delegation is in Vienna to attend the 5th edition of the Austria World Summit at the invitation of his Austrian counterpart, President Alexander Van der Bellen.
After his arrival in Vienna, President Ramkalawan and his Delegation headed to Hofburg Palace where he was greeted by President Bellen and inspected a Guard of Honour. He then engaged in a tete à tete with the Austrian President before the two Heads of State attended a press conference, followed by a working lunch hosted by President Bellen in honour of President Ramkalawan.
The two Presidents made short statements before taking questions from journalists of the Austrian Press Agency and Austrian Broadcasting Corporation.
President Bellen remarked that tourism was a key industry in both Seychelles and Austria and both countries were hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic which last year caused Seychelles’ Gross Domestic Product to shrink by twice that of Austria. After thanking President Ramkalawan for accepting his invitation, President Bellen pointed out that Austria and Seychelles must “cooperate more than in the past” as the two countries have common interests and experience sharing will be mutually benefitting.
One subject on which the two Heads of States are in sync is fighting climate change. President Bellen, who also leads the Austrian Green Party, echoed President Ramkalawan’s view that “we have passed the point of beautiful speeches and now is the time for action” when he said, “we have wasted over 30 years”. The two Presidents agreed to take this message of the urgency of action on climate change to the 5th edition of the Austria World Summit and CoP26 in Glasgow, Scotland later this year.
In his opening statement, President Ramkalawan extended an invitation to President Bellen to Seychelles. He said that in their tete à tete, President Bellen and himself had touched on a wide range of issues.
Three areas in which the two countries could deepen bilateral cooperation are tourism, protection of the environment and creating business opportunities. President Ramkalawan said Austria could help Seychelles add value to its tourism product so that tourists who visit the islands get real worth for their money, while the Chambers of Commerce of Austria and Seychelles could work together to find and exploit more business opportunities in Seychelles. On protection of the environment, President Ramkalawan pointed out that at CoP26 in Glasgow, Seychelles and Austria would add their voices to those of other small nations to say that we live in an interconnected world and that all countries need to act quickly against climate change.
When asked what he thought of climate change as a President and also a priest, President Ramkalawan said that the two roles have one thing in common which is creation, meaning the need to preserve nature, thus our human race and other species and of course our habitat. He said that in his double role as a President and priest he could sensitize people on the need to protect the environment and get them to take the necessary actions. He illustrated his point with the example of tuna fishing. He said that Seychelles had the biggest fishing agreement with the European Union in the Indian Ocean but at the same time yellow tuna is under threat. He explained that in its negotiations with EU, Seychelles had insisted on the sustainability and controlled exploitation of the species.
In the evening the President attended dinner hosted by Former Governor of California, Arnold Swartzenneger, who will be co-chairing the Austria Summit with President Van der Bellen.
The other members of President Ramkalawan’s delegation are the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Ambassador Sylvestre Radegonde, and Mr Ralph Agrippine, acting Chargé d’Affaires at the Seychelles embassy in Paris, France.
Source: State House – Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles
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