Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Seychelles is a nation that is defined by the sea.
While we have only 454 sq.km of land, we have over 1.3 million sq.km of ocean.
Thus the fight against piracy has always been one which has been existential in nature.
From the outset- we called for a holistic approach that addressed all sides of the problem- from gradually building peace within Somalia, to ensuring that impunity did not continue at sea.
In his appeal to world leaders- President James Michel called for 5 main points to be addressed to better coordinate action on piracy, and one of the most critical was to enhance the capacity of states within this region.
We are pleased today that the EUCAPNESTOR project is a key component in addressing this.
The European Union has been an essential stakeholder and partner from the beginning, in the fight against the scourge of piracy, which is a direct threat to our territorial sovereignty and an obstacle to our economic development. It responded in various ways to this menace, both bilaterally and regionally.
In this respect, the EUCAP NESTOR mission was mandated to help build maritime capacities and address the underlying roots of piracy in the Horn of Africa and Western Indian Ocean. It initially started with a Technical Assessment mission which came to Seychelles in February 2012, and was called ‘Regional Maritime Capacity Building’ at the time.
Since then, I am pleased to note that much has happened. Several European Union expects have come to visit Seychelles in order to assist the National Coastguards, the police and the judiciary in Maritime Security including counter-piracy and maritime governance.
The results of the partnership in the fight against piracy between the EU and Seychelles speaks for itself in the dramatic reduction in successful piracy attacks.
The decisive action of EU Atalanta in combination with other partners, including Seychelles to arrest pirates, and also to disrupt pirate activity in the coastal areas of Somalia itself, has meant that pirates struggle to find targets in the first place.
The determined effort by Seychelles to ensure that there is no longer impunity from prosecution, has also meant that the piracy business model as it used to be, is no longer profitable.
We can be proud of those successes.
But we cannot be complacent.
While progress has been made in Somalia, and we salute the resolve of the new Government there to bring about true law and order- the conditions that led to the start of piracy are still in place.
If we relent in our efforts, piracy will spring back up immediately.
Also we must continue to be aware and prepare for potential evolutions in the way in which piracy is conducted- as well as potential rise in other criminal activity at sea- including for example drug trafficking.
The threat of piracy has already cost the country enormously in terms of its development. To illustrate this argument, I would like to point out that in order to provide secure fishing grounds for our fishermen, our Coastguards have to patrol a vast area of the ocean. This is a necessity as a majority of the population depends on fresh fish as a source of food- while fish remains also our main export.
Our ocean is also the highway for trade- not only for Seychelles- but also for the whole world.
Thus, while we may consider that the cost of the fight against piracy is very high- the cost of doing nothing is even higher.
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Creating a secure ocean- means investing in a common future- investing in a future where we do not only look at our own capacity- but that of the region.
It is to the credit of the EUCAP NESTOR mission that it is truly cross-sectoral, combining maritime security and maritime governance.
For this reason, several organisations here are benefitting regardless of whether or not they are directly involved with anti-piracy activities. I am referring in particular to the legal support this mission is providing to the Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration.
We also look forward to capacity building that will benefit our Police and legal administration in general.
Excellence, Mesdames et Messieurs,
Je saisis cette occasion opportune pour saluer les efforts de l’Amiral Jacques Launay présent aujourd’hui parmi nous.
La sécurité maritime aux Seychelles, c’est en fait la sécurité de l’existence même de notre nation. Nous sommes convaincus que la mission EUCAPNESTOR contribuera à renforcer nos capacités, et assurera donc que les acquis et les compétences des Seychellois dans le domaine de la sécurité maritime contribuent au développement durable dans le sens le plus large, ce pour le mieux-être de notre pays que pour celui de la région.
Mesdames et Messieurs,
L’Union Européenne a toujours été un partenaire fidèle des Seychelles et de la région dans la lutte contre le fléau de la piraterie maritime, comme dans les efforts de maintien de l’ordre et la stabilité en Somalie. Ses efforts ont des retombées très positives aux Seychelles.
Nous sommes fiers d’abriter la Cellule Anti-piraterie de la COI cofinancée par l’Union Européenne. Le projet MASE d’une valeur totale de 37.5 million d’Euros viendra en complément des efforts d’EUCAPNESTOR. Nous avons noté ce mois-ci l’approbation du projet dans le contexte du FED.
Je réitère l’importance de travailler également en réseau régional, ainsi que sur une plateforme régionale. En temps que membre de la COI, les Seychelles savent très bien que défendre la zone économique seychelloise, c’est défendre l’indianocéanie, et vice versa.
Nos intérêts sécuritaires ne peuvent connaitre de frontières, car nos défis ne reconnaissent pas ces frontières.
Je souhaite plein succès à la mission EUCAPNESTOR aux Seychelles et dans la région.
Je vous remercie de votre attention!