Local tortoises to grace Korean international expo


Prof. Payet and Mr Song exchange documents after the signing

The Minister for Environment and Energy Professor Rolf Payet on Monday handed over the tortoises and the plants to the chairperson of the Suncheon Bay International Garden Expo 2013 organising committee Young Soo Song in a ceremony at the Botanical Gardens, Mont Fleuri.

Professor Payet and Mr Song also signed and exchanged documents to formalise and confirm the handover.
The tortoises and the plant species are expected to leave Seychelles soon for Suncheon.

The expo, an 180-day event, will bring together many countries from all corners of the world to celebrate the importance of protecting and preserving our respective environment.
Monday’s handover and signing ceremony was done in the presence of a number of high officials from the Ministry of Environment and Energy and the National Botanical Gardens Foundation (NBGF), Seychelles honorary consul to Korea Dong Chang Jeong, among other guests.

Following the signing all those present were able to witness the two tortoises in the wooden cages in which they would travel to Korea being lowered from a truck by a crane for the visitors to see and  photograph.

This was followed by a colourful and spectacular presentation by a Korean cultural group.

Addressing all those present at the ceremony, Prof. Payet said it is important to acknowledge that Seychelles’ participation at the Suncheon Bay International Garden Expo will represent yet another wonderful achievement for our friendly and cooperative relations with the Republic of Korea.

“For many years now Seychelles and Korea have been close partners who have worked together across an array of different areas and cultural exchange in particular continues to be a focal point with a recent example being Korea’s enthusiastic participation in the recent Carnaval International de Victoria and the weekend’s eco-friendly marathon,” Prof. Payet told the guests.

Prof. Payet took the opportunity to recognise and commend the hard work done by Mr Jeong whom he described as “one of Seychelles’ most ardent supporters”.

Prof. Payet also highlighted the two countries’ evolving cooperation in the renewable energy sector and in line with that he mentioned the recent start of feasibility tests by South Korean company KC Cottrell on La Digue to look into the possibility to install solar farms on land, sea and rooftops.

Furthermore he noted the visit President James Michel made to Korea in May last year for the Yeosu Expo which he said was another first time initiative by the country aimed at showcasing the great value of our oceans and coasts.

Mr Michel also visited Suncheon City and met its mayor, Cho-Choong Hoon, who visited Seychelles in October last year.

During Mr Hoon’s visit here two memoranda of understanding were signed with the Mayor of Victoria and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. As a result our small capital now shares a twinning programme with Suncheon.

It was on behalf of the government and people of Seychelles that Prof. Payet expressed our sincere appreciation for the generous support that the Suncheon Expo organising committee has extended to Seychelles.

Guests admiring the tortoises and plants

Following the expo the two tortoises will remain in Korea with the aim of bringing our distant communities closer together.

“For Seychelles the faithful handing over of the tortoises represents more than just a contribution to the expo but it is a symbol of the longevity of our relation,” said Prof. Payet.
Mr Song for his part expressed his deepest gratitude to President James Michel, Prof. Payet and all guests present for the ceremony.

 “Like the Koreans, the Seychellois is a warm, peaceful people who live harmoniously with nature,” said Mr Song through an interpreter.

“With Aldabra tortoises and endemic plants from Seychelles in Suncheon, I expect this will strengthen the ties of friendship and cooperation between our two countries,” Mr Song said.

He said he firmly believes the tortoise and plants will contribute to attract more visitors to the Suncheon Bay Expo and further showcase and broaden the knowledge of Seychelles in Korea.

Mr Song took the opportunity to extend a warm invitation to President Michel, the minister and officials from the Ministry of Environment to visit the Suncheon Bay International Garden Expo and further enjoy and discover the hospitality of the Korean people.

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