Sri Lankan State Visit Joint Statement
Strengthening Seychelles-Sri Lanka Partnership
Beyond the 25 years of Diplomatic Relations
1. At the invitation of H.E. James Alix Michel, President of the Republic of Seychelles, H.E.Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, undertook a State Visit to Seychelles from 29th June to 1st July 2013. It was noted that this is the first State Visit by a Sri Lankan Head of State to Seychelles. He was accompanied on this visit by Ministers and high-level officials.
2. During the visit, the President of Seychelles and the President of Sri Lanka had an in-depth exchange of views on Seychelles-Sri Lanka relations and major international and regional issues of mutual interest.
3. President Michel congratulated President Rajapaksa on the achievements made by Sri Lanka in terms of economic growth and in overcoming the post conflict challenges. The two leaders also discussed the continued efforts and progress made with regard to the national reconciliation process in Sri Lanka.
4. The two leaders underscored that Seychelles and Sri Lanka have a strong partnership based on various commonalities that island nations share, particularly based on common values, long-standing friendship and cooperation.
5. In reviewing the current state of bilateral relations, they welcomed the enhanced collaboration between the two countries in a broad range of areas such as education, fisheries, trade and investment, judiciary, and health.
6. Both leaders recalled the state visit to Sri Lanka by President Michel in August 2012 as well as the series of high-level visits between both countries over the last year. They acknowledged that these high-level visits have provided strong impetus to the bilateral relations between the countries.
7. Building upon shared values of democracy and the rule of law, the two leaders expressed their strong desire to broaden and deepen economic, diplomatic, educational, defence and cultural ties between Seychelles and Sri Lanka.
8. The two leaders therefore welcomed the signing of the following agreements:
i) MoU on Defence Cooperation
ii) Bilateral Air Services Agreement
iii) MoU on Vocational Training and Youth Development
9. The two leaders emphasized that the establishment of air links will be a catalyst for further strengthening the economic partnership between the two countries and the efforts should be deployed to set up such links as soon as possible following the signing of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement.
10.They renewed their commitment to expanding the range of activities that will contribute to the shared goal of increasing bilateral trade and investment. They welcomed the various proposals made during the business forum to facilitate exchanges between the business communities of Seychelles and Sri Lanka and to develop more effective public private partnerships in fields such as tourism, health, fisheries, maritime, education among other key sectors. They also agreed to explore the possibility of negotiating a free trade agreement that will serve to promote trade between the two countries.
11. In terms of the banking sector, President Michel welcomed the Bank of Ceylon who will be establishing a branch in the Seychelles before the end of 2013. In addition, both leaders discussed other potential joint initiatives in the banking sector.
12. Recognising the shared importance of education for each country, Seychelles expressed its appreciation to Sri Lanka for the support extended in the field of education through the deputation of teachers and the various training opportunities offered. The two leaders also committed to promoting cooperation between universities and training institutes. They underscored the value of youth exchanges as a way to strengthen people-to-people linkages that will endure into the future.
13. The importance of fisheries cooperation was acknowledged by both countries as a win-win partnership. There has been a sharp increase in orders placed in Sri Lankan shipbuilding yards by Seychellois fishing entrepreneurs. It is expected that private investment in the fisheries sector will increase further in the future. More exchanges to build the capacity of those working in the fisheries sector was underscored by both countries. Both leaders welcomed an early conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Colombo International Nautical and Engineering College (CINEC) and the Seychelles Maritime Training School.
14. Both leaders underscored the need to further exchanges in the field of health through the implementation of the MoU signed in August 2012. In terms of the judicial sector, both countries expressed strong interest to work more closely together on the basis of the agreed framework on labour cooperation in legal affairs. The two leaders also agreed to strengthen cooperation in tourism. This will include new avenues for cooperation in training and industry, staff exchanges through the elaboration of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Sri Lankan Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management and the Seychelles Tourism Academy.
15. For the agricultural sector, the two leaders discussed joint initiatives that could be pursued related to agricultural product development, processing, value addition, training on agri-business, product distribution, marketing and other additional fields.
16. In the area of defence cooperation, the two leaders acknowledged the importance of the MoU in Defence Cooperation, which opens the door to enhanced defence relations between Seychelles and Sri Lanka especially in the field of maritime security. The two countries also agreed to seek the ways and means directed towards collaboration in Hydrography.
17. As per the Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement between the two countries, which has now entered into force, the two leaders agreed that that the 1st joint commission meeting will be held during the 1st quarter of 2014. They highlighted that the Joint Commission will provide an additional platform to further bilateral relations based on the accruing opportunities for cooperation.
18. The two leaders recognised that some of the greatest strengths in the Seychelles-Sri Lanka relationship lie in the vibrant and long-standing people-to-people ties. In this regard, they emphasized the important contribution made by the Sri Lankan community in Seychelles in developing those ties. They also agreed that enhanced cultural exchanges would bring added value to the bilateral relations. An invitation was therefore extended to Sri Lanka to participate in the Carnaval International de Victoria and the Creole Festival.
19. There was also an in-depth exchange of views on the pivotal role of the small island states in international relations. They stressed that islands, which are the barometers for development, are today demonstrating global leadership and rapid progress in addressing sustainable development challenges and inspiring other countries around the world to do the same. The proposal to have a special dialogue on small states and particularly island states of CHOGM was welcomed by both leaders.
20. The two leaders decided to further promote cooperation on environmental issues including climate change by developing partnerships in the renewable energy sector. They stressed the need for closer collaboration between the two countries in mobilizing the international community to address more effectively the needs and vulnerabilities of islands. They emphasized that this is particularly important in terms of the post 2015 development framework which needs to be informed of the experiences from the islands.
21. Recognising the importance of oceans as the next frontier of sustainable development for the world, the leaders agreed that as oceanic states, both Sri Lanka and Seychelles have important roles to play for the stability and prosperity of the Indian Ocean. In view of the potential that the Indian Ocean holds for cooperation and sustainable growth, the two countries agreed to redouble efforts to harness the true potential of the Indian Ocean.
22. They exchanged ideas on the green economy as an important tool for sustainable development. They also agreed to work more closely together through regional bodies like the IOR-ARC to enhance economic integration. They found it imperative for the two countries to address current challenges encountered with maritime transportation.
23. The leaders also agreed that islands have a critical role to play in relation to the reform and development of the world’s multilateral architecture in order to build an egalitarian global order where the voices of small and big countries are heard.
24. Presidential Michel extended his very best wishes to Sri Lanka for the organization of a very successful Commonwealth Summit to be held in November 2013 and outlined possible areas for discussion including the utilization of the resources of oceans.
25. To achieve the goals set out in this joint statement, the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to sustained political engagement, more frequent high-level exchanges and regular dialogues between their officials. They also agreed to further promote policy exchanges between ministries and departments of both Governments and enhanced cooperation in new fields of collaboration such as through parliamentary exchanges.
26. This Joint Statement embodies the vision of the leaders of Seychelles and Sri Lanka for harnessing the enormous potential available for further strengthening and consolidating this comprehensive partnership in all areas of bilateral endeavour.
Victoria, 1st July 2013