Seychelles reaffirms commitment to IORA at Ministerial meeting in Padang
“Seychelles remains committed to IORA.” This is what Secretary of State, Department for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Barry Faure, conveyed in a statement that he delivered to the IORA Council at the opening of the meeting on Friday 23rd October.
Ambassador Faure was speaking on behalf of Foreign Minister Joël Morgan. “Considering the momentum of IORA over the past two years, it is only fitting to have regional enhancement at the heart of the agenda this year,” Ambassador Faure went on to say. “The progress made by this organization has indeed geared up member states to be more active and involved with one another and it is evident that these efforts can only be increased if regionalism is promoted and effectively focused upon. It is after all, the essence of a regional grouping.”
Ambassador Faure reminded the meeting that Seychelles hosted the IORA Tourism Ministerial in November 2014 and the Women Economic Empowerment event in August this year, the latter with the leadership and support of Australia. “We look forward to more exchanges through similar events in the spirit of enhancing regionalism.” The Padang Communiqué would later reaffirm IORA’s commitment “to the importance of women’s economic empowerment as an effective driver of economic growth and development”, and determination “to continue to pursue its implementation as a cross-cutting theme across IORA’s key priority areas.”
The Seychelles delegation, also comprising of non-resident Ambassador to Jakarta, Waven William, and Foreign Affairs Development Officer Vanessa Quatre, also participated in a Ministerial Retreat which examined the topic of enhancing regionalism. Seychelles joined the chorus of countries that threw their support behind the new chair, Indonesia, who took the initiative to bolster regionalism through the IORA Concord for adoption at an IORA Summit in March 2017 in Indonesia. Seychelles shared the view that the establishment of an ad-hoc Committee on the IORA Concord would make proposals on the vision and strategic direction that the IORA should take given the different forces at play in the region, the priorities of the organization and the new and emerging challenges.
Indonesia who was taking the chairmanship from Australia — the latter was congratulated for successfully conducting the affairs of the Association over the past two years — had chosen “Strengthening Maritime Cooperation in a Peaceful and Stable Indian Ocean” as the theme of its mandate. It wasted no time to set the ball rolling by getting Council to adopt the IORA Maritime Cooperation Declaration.
Other important developments worth noting were the accession of Somalia to the IORA, and the entry of Germany as the 7th Dialogue Partner IORA. South Africa was also elected as the Vice Chair of the body and is expected to take over the chairmanship in October 2017.