Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to bid you a warm welcome to this year’s Honorary Consuls Conference.
First and foremost I wish to thank you all for the importance you attach to our Biennial meeting by travelling from near and far to be with us this week and for the trust and responsibility you continue to display in working tirelessly for Seychelles.
It was in October, 2011 when we last met in a bid to celebrate our achievements on one hand, and to outline and discuss the future we foresee for Seychelles’ foreign policy. I note that much has happened over these years and that often, our consuls, have played a major part in these developments.
Your very presence here today, attests to the dedication that you attach to your roles as Honorary Consuls; for you are after all, an important arm of our Foreign Service.
We currently only hold 10 diplomatic missions in 10 key cities around the world and in many instances; we find that YOU are the only representatives of Seychelles in your respective countries bringing your support to the endeavours of our Government and to these missions.
It is for the fact that we rely so heavily on your efforts and networks that I must urge you all to continue to push the boundaries to amplify Seychelles’ achievements and to deliver more for Seychelles in the years to come.
Through the scheduled interactions over the next two days with representatives from key Ministries, including the officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our numerous Ambassadors currently serving abroad, this conference will present you with the fundamental developments that have occurred in the last years, and will outline our vision for the future of Seychelles’ Foreign Policy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to take this opportunity to give you a short overview of the main aspects of Seychelles foreign policy.
The ocean and advocacy for the issues of concern for Small Island Developing States has always been a key cornerstone of our foreign policy.
We are well aware of the plight of SIDS and the need for us, as like-minded nation-states, to come together in order to ensure that our voice is heard within the international arena. As such, we have focused a lot of our efforts on harnessing and cultivating relations within our region through bilateral as well as regional affiliations like the Indian Ocean Commission.
La coopération régionale au sein de la Commission de l’Océan Indien est pour nous une priorité majeure. C’est un outil incontournable pour promouvoir nos spécificités insulaires et façonner cette dynamique de co-développement dans la région de l’Océan Indien.
Il y a un an de cela, nous avons présidé la COI avec ambition et fierté.
Nous avons, aujourd’hui, franchi une nouvelle étape dans le cadre d’une coopération renforcée sur les plans politique, économique, social et culturel.
Nous avons joué un rôle crucial dans la sortie de crise de Madagascar et de son réintégration dans la communauté internationale.
De grandes perspectives ont été ouvertes sur le plan économique en matière de connectivité aérienne et maritime, de sécurité alimentaire et d’énergies renouvelables. Il en est de même du développement du secteur touristique avec le concept des iles Vanilles- concept avec lequel vous êtes déjà très familiers.
En célébrant, aux Seychelles, le 10 janvier dernier, le 30eme anniversaire de la signature de L’Accord de victoria qui a lancé officiellement la COI, nous avons voulu montrer nos réalisations, réaffirmer nos missions mais surtout tracer de nouvelles pistes pour l’avenir.
Nevertheless our efforts do not end there. Seychelles continues to branch out and build partnerships with the wider community of SIDS through sub-regional groupings such as AOSIS and AIMS. On this note, I wish to highlight the importance of the upcoming UN Conference on Small Island Developing States to be held in Samoa from the 1st to 4th September 2014.
We have worked tirelessly to present a document to the conference which clearly defines the principles of the Blue Economy Concept that we so vigorously promote as a mechanism for the development of SIDS, and it is with great support from all levels of the international community that we have come thus far.
From the AIMS sub-regional meeting held in Seychelles in July 2013, to the Blue Economy Summit we hosted in Abu Dhabi earlier this year, in collaboration with the Government of the United Arab Emirates, to the Ministerial AOSIS meeting on climate change that we intend hosting later this year, it is clear that Seychelles is indeed showing itself to be the Determined Island Nation it has branded itself as.
Seychelles has also always placed strong emphasis on Africa’s development. We continue to be a firm believer in the need for African solutions to African problems.
This is why the Government of Seychelles is thoroughly invested in the development of the Africa 2063 Strategy.
Working towards this strategy of the next 50 years Africa requires a continued focus on positive drivers for its development. These include structural economic transformation, people-centered development, infrastructural development, renewable energy, to name a few.
That is why the Government of Seychelles will continue to advocate for people centered development with much emphasis on education and human development in order to form a strong link between education, industries and economic growth. As a Small Island Developing State, Seychelles is continuously striving to promote the collaborative work between the educational institutions, researchers and policy makers so that we can push forward with the development and transformation goals of our nation. With that in mind the Government of Seychelles continues to aspire to greater progress with much focus on sustainable development.
Although Seychelles is a firm believer of the importance of multilateralism as an effective mechanism to promote our shared values, the significance of bilateral cooperation must not be underestimated.
To date, Seychelles has established diplomatic relations with 156 countries, and each and every one of these partnerships has been fruitful in their own way.
I must emphasize here, the support that our consuls provide in this particular regard through their provision of consular assistance, providing important links to businesses and opening up prospects for Foreign Direct Investment, promoting Seychelles not only as the ideal holiday destination, but as a country that is worth investing in: your contributions are recognised and highly appreciated.
Many of our consuls continue to exceed expectations and have gone as far as arranging short training courses for professionals in Seychelles and they are often the source of donations of equipment such as books and computers to schools, and other institutions: proof that they also fully invest in the development of the Seychellois People.
My dear Consuls: I wish to thank you for all your past endeavours, and in advance for all your support in what the future shall bring to the Seychelles cooperation with the world. You have shown yourselves to be true friends and Ambassadors of Seychelles, and for that we are grateful.
Before I take leave, I wish to avail of this opportunity to articulate that Seychelles has proven time and again, to be a capable nation, one which is not afraid to take charge of situations and lead by example where necessary. Our contributions to the fight waged against the scourge of piracy over the years, is proof of this. With the help of our partners, we continue to address the challenges of maritime security not only for Seychelles, but for the region as a whole.
It is in the spirit of Seychelles’ ability to make multifaceted contributions within the international community that we are actively lobbying for a seat in the United Nations Security Council for the period 2017-2018.
As we spearhead our campaign we are convinced that you can also play a vital role in endorsing Seychelles’ candidature through your different networks and undertakings. It is hoped that this conference will equip you better and establish a way forward, through which we can together forge ahead in this endeavour in the coming years.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am certain that the exchanges over the next few days will prove to be fruitful, especially for those of you that have recently joined our family of Honorary Consuls. I urge you all to use this time wisely and to not hesitate to strengthen your networks amongst each other and with the government officials as well as with the Ambassadors present.
It is my hope that the knowledge and contacts you acquire may further assist you in the discharge of your duties as Honorary Consuls, and as friends of Seychelles.
I welcome you once more to venture with us as we look beyond the horizon for a better future for Seychelles.
I thank you for your attention.