Former President, Sir James Mancham,
The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,
Your Excellencies members of the diplomatic corps,
Members of the National Assembly,
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is very happy to this year share its open day with its’ wider diplomatic family, by coinciding it with the Seychelles Honorary Consuls Conference.
We are also excited that this day comes as we prepare to celebrate together our melting pot of cultures, and our connections with the world through the Carnaval International de Victoria.
It is not always easy to showcase the day to day work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and it is why our open day is so special to my staff and I- it allows us to show everyone what this small ministry can and is doing.
And similarly- to allow us to express the potential of the Seychellois people we represent.
Ultimately our open day is an expression of the belief that we have in the Seychellois people- our belief in the value of our contribution, and in our sincerity in the conduct of our international relations.
We are also very happy to have been joined today by young Seychellois students and members of the Seychelles National Youth Assembly, who have sought to define in their own way, what the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs means to them.
We hope you will see through your interactions, with our staff, with our young volunteers, and amongst yourselves, the fundamental way in which Seychelles is connected to the global family of nations, and how we strive every day to further foster these connections.
Our connectivity to the world is both a source for our vulnerability, and a source of our strength. We are the most likely to be affected by global tremors- but we can also bounce back the quickest. Our own experience in rebounding from the global financial crisis or in tackling piracy provides an evident example.
This 4th MFA Open Day marks a special year for us.
Resonating the National theme ‘the International year of Small Island Developing States; Seychelles, a determined Island Nation’, the Ministry is holding its Open Day under the theme’ A determined Island voice’.
Our advocacy for the cause of Small Island Developing States is at the heart of the advocacy of our foreign policy.
Seychelles has sought to ensure that we are not simply engaged in a plea for help. We want to ensure that we are also proposing concrete solutions.
We do not wish to simply ‘adapt’ to the rules set by others, nor do we consider it sufficient to mitigate the risks we face.
We want to make a real difference by encouraging innovative approaches to development that are based in the reality of an island context.
We have championed the ‘Blue Economy’ concept, because the ocean represents our biggest opportunity in terms of sustainable development. The Blue Economy Summit that we organized in cooperation with the UAE has helped define the agenda with regards to harnessing this potential.
We have also sought to build on our encouraging debt reduction plan by proposing debt for adaptation swaps- a means by which creditor countries can positively contribute to the fight against climate change by helping us further reduce our debt burden- a challenge which has threatened to suffocate more than one island economy.
We hope therefore that our open day will help to showcase both our resilience in the face of unexpected changes, and our determination to drive positive change in the future.
Our bid for the UN Security Council is also a core feature of our open day.
We invite a reflection on what it means to make such a bid.
Firstly, yes, it does involve committing more resources to our diplomatic efforts. But by planning our bid well in advance, these additional resources will contribute towards improving Seychelles’ effectiveness in multiple forums. The major additional costs are linked to the additional human resources required. Certainly for me, investments in human capital are at the core of sustainable development for SIDS.
Secondly, we must ask ourselves the fundamental question on whether we believe in a reactive or proactive approach to international relations. Whether in the context of the UN Security Council, WTO, or global negotiations on climate change- should we be prepared to accept unquestioning acquiesense to rules negotiated by others but which bind us nonetheless? We have a right to bring our contribution to the table. And we have a responsibility to a strong and determined voice for those whose voices are often marginalized.
Excellences, Mesdames et messieurs,
La journée porte ouverte est aussi l’occasion de partager nos ambitions en ce qui concerne notre place dans notre sous-région.
La multiplicité d’organisations régionales peut créer un défi majeur pour les insulaires qui n’ont pas toujours la capacité en terme de ressources humaines pour suivre avec efficacité les différentes initiatives. Par contre, les insulaires sont le plus souvent les partisans d’une meilleure connectivité car nous sommes les premiers a souffrir a travers notre éloignement des marchés.
C’est pour cela que nous poursuivons avec ardeur nos démarches à améliorer notre desserte aérienne ainsi que notre connectivité maritime.
Mesdames et messieurs,
Les Seychelles soulignent aussi à chaque occasion possible, l’importance des questions liées aux droits de l’homme et de bonne gouvernance. Notre pays est ouvert au dialogue avec tous nos partenaires, et nous avons ouvert nos portes a tous ceux qui veulent nous interroger, ou échanger avec nous dans le respect mutuel. J’espère que vous allez voir les résultats de beaucoup de ces consultations a travers notre exhibition.
Ladies and gentlemen,
‘A determined island voice’ cannot simply be an isolated cry for help or a shout for assistance. It is rather a collection of opinions and voices that together unite to focus our efforts. No individual can be eclipsed in this voice- there is always room for many views. But as whole, it is a reflection of the ambitions of the Seychellois people- and a wider reflection of what it means to be an islander on what is essentially a ‘blue planet’.
I would like to thank all the individuals in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who have contributed to this voice. To those who are already overworked, but who nonetheless found the time to share their work with all of you today.
And to all the partners of the ministry who have supported us in one way or another, I would also like to express my sincere appreciation.
We can all be better heard because of your joint efforts.
I thank you.