Australia seeks to strengthen ties with Seychelles and IOC


08-November-2011

Mr Marles during his meeting with President Michel at State House yesterday

This came out after talks the Australian parliamentary secretary for Pacific island Affairs, Richard Marles, had yesterday with President James Michel and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jean-Paul Adam, at State House.

Mr Marles was accompanied by the Australian high commissioner to Seychelles Sandra Vegting.

Mr Marles’ two-day visit is a follow-up to discussions President Michel and his delegation had during his recent official visit to Australia and his participation at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth.

Talking to the press soon after the State House meeting yesterday afternoon, Mr Marles said Seychelles’ taking over of the presidency of the IOC this year is a real opportunity for Australia to increase cooperation with the regional body.

“It is an opportunity to work more closely with Seychelles and other small island states in the Indian Ocean,” he said.

“Australia has very significant experience working with small island states through the Pacific islands and we believe that this experience is something that translates to the experiences of small island states elsewhere in the world,” he said. 

“With Australia being also an Indian Ocean country, we are keen to begin the process of ‘spreading our wings’ by working more closely with the small island states of the region,” he added.

Mr Marles said there are various issues which are common to the countries of the Pacific and the Indian Ocean and among them – how to create sustainable economies with small populations, noting that the economies of the countries have similar structures with tourism and agriculture being the main resources.

“Maritime security and combating piracy is another big issue and this is why we are keen to continue the work in the western Indian Ocean,” he said.

Mr Marles noted that a follow-up meeting on piracy will be held in Perth next year.
Australia is also keen to bring its help to develop sports in Seychelles with a contribution of 20,000 Australian dollars to develop multipurpose sports facilities on Ile Perseverance.

Being very much involved with the issue of climate change for the Pacific region at the UN, Mr Marles noted the importance of Seychelles’ support on the issue through our ambassador at the UN.

He said the point they stressed is that small island states are at the frontline of the adverse effects of global climate change.

“It is therefore very important to use the stories of small island states to get the commitment of big countries to do something on the issue as well as to secure funding for climate change adaptation projects”.

Minister Adam said the visit is a very significant one as it represents another step in the exceptional relations between Australia and Seychelles.

He noted that strong support from Australia has led the international community to take note of the concerns of small island states Seychelles has raised during President Michel’s recent visits.

“Australian support for the concerns of small islands is a key element in the fight which President Michel is leading to bring about global attention to the cause of small islands,” Mr Adam said.

“Piracy is a big issue as small islands has no means to fight it and therefore international support is of paramount importance,” added Mr Adam.

He said that talks to bring a partner like Australia to work with the IOC is in line with President Michel’s objective to bring in more partners in the ocean which we share.

Mr Marles said Australia is impressed with the economic development carried out here and Australia believes the island states in the Pacific have a lot to learn from Seychelles’ experience.

“Australia will share Seychelles’ successful experience with other Pacific countries with similar population,” he added.
Mr Marles is expected to leave Seychelles today.

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