Sir James Mancham, Founding president,
Chief Justice, President of the Court of Appeal, Designated Minister, Colleague ministers,
Leader of the Opposition, Members of the National Assembly,
Members of the diplomatic Corps,
Honorary Consuls Generals/Honorary Consuls,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure to be with all of you today for another meeting for Honorary Consuls- and who represent such an effective voice for this determined island nation
Your roles as Honorary Consuls for Seychelles are pivotal to our foreign policy as well as to the socio-economic development of our small nation.
Your work as Honorary Consuls in your respective countries also transcend into what Seychelles as a nation wants to accomplish, what we have successfully achieved, our challenges and what we want for the future.
You are the faces and voices of Seychelles abroad.
Your work is of utmost importance to the Government and to the Ministry and this importance will only grow in the future.
On this note, I would like to sincerely express my wishes of gratitude for the excellent work and effort that you continue to deliver in the name of Seychelles, in complementarity to the work of the Ministry.
Our biannual meeting of Honorary Consuls also provides us with a unique opportunity to pause and take stock of Seychelles’ foreign policy setting.
As a Small Island Developing State; our connections to the world at large are both our lifeline and our Achilles heel.
Our global positioning is not only critical in relation to what we hope to achieve from our diplomatic efforts but also to our identity as a nation.
Our foreign policy aims to strengthen our ability to pro-actively influence the international development architecture to better reflect the priorities of Small islands such as Seychelles.
Like all states, we have interests that have to be defended. But it is fair to say that islands have a bigger stake in developing a framework rooted in sustainability and shared interest.
Our foreign policy is thus embedded in what we stand for as a nation and our aspirations for the future.
Our track record of not shying away from difficult decisions, of solving problems and achieving practical, constructive outcomes despite the immensity of the challenges before us have shown our mettle and resilience as a determined island nation.
We are for example a far cry from the economic situation we found ourselves in 2008. Last year Seychelles experienced solid economic growth of 3.5%, forecasted to rise even further over the next two years.
Today our foreign exchange reserves are at an all time high and inflation rates are down. At the end of 2013 we also completed our reform programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – having put into place the key economic structures and policies needed for the success we are experiencing today.
We also have plans to continue working with organizations such as the IMF in order to consolidate the gains we have already made.
Seychelles is also on the verge of accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). We hope to finalize our accession before the end of this year and we are confident that we have prepared ourselves adequately and that the positive changes we have undergone will be met with great satisfaction.
Investment-wise, Seychelles remains at an advantage regionally – political stability, a strategic location, favourable legislation for foreign investors, a strong labour force and good communication networks.
Our tourism industry has also experienced considerable growth. Seychelles welcomed around 230,000 visitors in 2013 reflecting an increase of 11% compared to 2012.
Our national airline continues to build on its partnership with Etihad to strengthen its reputation and ensure the long term viability of our tourism industry no matter the vagaries of international air travel markets.
In the same vein, allow me to also highlight the increased number of Bilateral Air Services Agreement and code share links that we have established with our partnering countries over the last few years.
The sustained rise in tourist arrivals has spurred an important increase of job opportunities across all sectors.
I take this opportunity to thank our hosts, the Kempinski hotel for the wonderful arrangements made to accommodate us. I also would like to make a particular mention in appreciation of the efforts made by the Savoy Hotel and in particular their dedicated staff. While the logistical fine tuning of a conference such as this means we have not been able to launch our conference there on this occasion, we look forward to future opportunities. I hope you will all nonetheless have the opportunity to visit the Savoy and see for yourselves what has been achieved in this iconic location at Beau Vallon.
Dear Consuls, and dear friends,
This Conference also allows us to review the way in which we work together and support each other. We hope to be able to establish mechanisms to provide all of you with more support, and more updated information, as well as appropriate direct links with key Seychellois institutions such as the Seychelles Investment Bureau or the Seychelles Tourism Board. We also look to improve the framework by which we can assess and thus recognise your efforts.
A key component of ensuring that you have timely information will be through the new Seychelles News Agency, that we are about to launch, and which aims to be the premier portal for diffusion of news about Seychelles internationally. It will also allow a stronger and more consistent local perspective to be shared on global events. I sincerely thank our Consul in Bulgaria, Mr. Maxim Behar, who first came up with the idea, and has worked tirelessly with the Government to bring the idea to fruition. The launching of this agency just after this ceremony will crown the exemplary efforts you have made Maxim, and we are most appreciative.
We also aim to better support our consuls through the creation of an association to better focus the scope of your contributions to the national development of Seychelles, and the advocacy role you can play internationally. I salute the consuls of sending states based in Seychelles, who have last month created a similar organisation, and i thank particularly the Dean of the local Consular Corps, Mr. Albert Geers for having brought this initiative to pass.
We will be celebrating the 4th Edition of Le Carnaval de Victoria this year together with our conference. Victoria will once again host the different cultures of the world; splashed with vibrant colours and echoing different rhythms. I would like to thank all of you who have contributed to bring delegations from far and wide to celebrate with us Seychelles’ own melting pot of cultures.
Victoria, one of the smallest capital cities of the world, is also enhancing its partnerships with cities around the world. Seychelels is proud that the Mayor of Victoria has recently been elected co-president of United Cities and Local Government Organisation.
We aim to further use this platform to contribute to the development of a more strategic partnership with associations of Local Authorities; at the national, regional and international level. This is part of our diplomacy of proximity and we thank all of you for contributing to strengthening these partnerships between the people of Seychelles and those of your host countries.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you know, 2014 has been declared the International Year of Small Island Developing States. It is with this in mind that we have developed this year’s national theme “Seychelles – A Determined Island Nation.”
It is welcoming to see that the international community is beginning to pay greater attention to the challenges we face as Small Island Developing States (SIDS). We can proudly say that this is in large part due to the efforts of Seychelles’, together with its fellow SIDS, to draw attention to our predicament as vulnerable members of the global community.
Indeed, is in this context of greater global awareness that we must seek to highlight that Seychelles is not just a bystander. Our national theme, a “Determined Island Nation”, seeks to emphasize that although we are small, we are more than ready to play an “active” role, to address challenges that are often not only cause for our concern but for all.
It is this spirit of determination that we ask our diplomatic network – both at home and abroad – to convey to the world, and show that small island nations can also be leaders. It is in this context that we have presented our candidature for a Non-Permanent seat on the UN Security council for 2017-2018.
As part of our advocacy for SIDS, we have also persistently argued the case for the ‘Blue economy’ concept.
It was again promoted at the ‘Blue Economy’ Conference in Abu Dhabi in January 2014.
We firmly believe in the potential benefit of the blue Economy as we also recognise the importance of the Green Economy.
72% of the world is covered with extensive stretches of water, so much of which bathes our shores and yet very little of which we hold ownership of and benefit from.
The Blue Economy concept will thus allow our African coastal states and small island states to claim ownership of our resources, aiming for the further development of a resource-based economy.
As we approach the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development goals and as we look beyond 2015, we, as a nation is proud to say that our MDGs report for 2013 has indicated that Seychelles has achieved almost all the MDGs, especially those relating to education, health and social development. Like every good report it also identifies the challenges remaining, many of which go to the heart of our families and communities in terms of substance abuse and their related effects.
The ‘Social Renaissance Campaign’ that is ongoing and is being coordinated by the Ministry of Community Development, Social Affairs and Sport aims to overcome these challenges in a sustained manner.
Our consuls have always been active members in the development of our communities. We look forward to your support on this.
Excellences, Mesdames et Messieurs,
A travers cette conférence et ses activités connexes, vous êtes conviés à un voyage au cœur du développement des Seychelles, de sa vision, de ses ambitions, des priorités d’aujourd’hui et de demain.
Les Seychelles poursuivent avec détermination leur marche vers la modernisation et la transformation – processus dynamique qui s’inscrit dans la constance et la durée.
Dans ce processus, notre pays est engagé avec une dynamique politique renouvelée, des institutions internes clarifiées et un gouvernement ouvert.
Il y est engagé avec la richesse de son histoire, de son patrimoine, de ses atouts terrestres et maritimes, de la vitalité de ses hommes, de ses femmes et de sa jeunesse.
Comme j’ai indiqué précédemment, les Seychelles sont également engagées, au travers des réformes économiques réussies qui ont ouvert la voie au progrès et à la prospérité.
A cela s’ajoutent des réformes dans les domaines de l’Éducation, de la Culture, du Tourisme, de la Santé et du Sport. De toutes ces réformes découlent des stratégies et des plans d’action pour lesquels il vous appartient de bien vous imprégner.
Ainsi, sur le plan diplomatique, notre pays s’implique amplement avec des objectifs exigeants et pragmatiques pour défendre notre vision du monde, nos spécificités, et promouvoir nos intérêts.
Nous avons renforcé et développé nos relations bilatérales, régionales et multilatérales d’une manière significative.
Nous avons amplifié notre coopération économique dans des secteurs clefs comme l’énergie, l’agroalimentaire, la pêche, la santé, le tourisme, le développement durable, la culture, l’éducation, la formation et le renforcement des capacités.
Dans toutes ces entreprises, nous savons combien votre rôle a été précieux et déterminant, en tant que relais et leviers de la promotion des Seychelles. Vous en êtes des acteurs essentiels et incontournables. .
Il s’agit pour vous de poursuivre ce travail ; de le prolonger ; de l’amplifier avec un engagement renouvelé et de nous mobiliser ensemble pour offrir au peuple Seychellois encore plus d’opportunités de développement, tout en ouvrant de nouveaux horizons à notre jeunesse.
Je vous remercie pour votre attention.