09 October 2018 | Foreign Affairs.
Reception Hosted by President Danny Faure in Honour of H.E. Mr Maithripala Sirisena, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Monday 08th October 2018
Your Excellency, President Maithripala Sirisena
Distinguished members of the Sri Lankan delegation,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the people of Seychelles, it is truly a privilege to welcome you and your delegation to our country. We are so pleased that you accepted our invitation to visit Seychelles.
Thank you, firstly for the donation of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment that you personally presented to the Ministry of Health this afternoon. And secondly, for the very productive discussions we had earlier. We signed two MoUs this afternoon, both in the education sector.
All this exemplifies the excellent health of the relations between our two countries.
This State visit, Mr President, is testimony to the deep mutual respect and friendship that exists between Seychelles and Sri Lanka.
Our two nations may be different in geography and in size, but we are close to each other in our values, our democratic way of life, and our respect for human rights. Moreover, we share a beautiful ocean, and our present day realities are shaped by the historical currents that traversed the Indian Ocean.
Your visit here this month of October is especially memorable as we commemorate the 30th year since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Seychelles and Sri Lanka. On this special occasion, I would like to renew my commitment to continue to work with you to strengthen our friendship.
I wish to take the opportunity of your visit to our country, to extend my warmest wishes to the Sri Lankan Community here in Seychelles.
The first Sri Lankans in Seychelles were 60 soldiers who came during the Second World War. They were stationed at Mont Signal, or Signal Hill. After the war, they were all repatriated back to Sri Lanka except for Mr Fonseka, who married a Seychelloise. The iconic Marie-Antoinette Restaurant on Mahe is a legacy of the Sri Lankan presence in Seychelles.
Today, the number of Sri Lankans living and working here have increased to almost 1200 people. They play an important role in the growth and development of our unique country.
I will mention two crucial sectors where their presence is felt.
In Health, we have 29 Sri Lankan nurses, 27 Allied Health Workers, five Sri Lankan doctors working in Seychelles.
In Education, there are currently 37 Sri Lankan teachers working in secondary and post-secondary institutions in Seychelles.
Our cooperation is rich and diverse.
Today, our two countries are cooperating in a number of areas such as education, health, fisheries, trade and capacity building for our young sailors through CINEC. We see great potential in embarking on a solid partnership with Sri Lanka in the fields of renewable energy, environment protection, tourism and the Blue Economy, amongst others.
We are very proud to have a direct air link with Sri Lanka, with Sri Lankan Airlines flying to and from Colombo three times a week. This offers our people with the tremendous opportunity to experience all the wonders Sri Lanka has to offer and vice versa.
There is indeed a strong people-to-people connection between our two countries, as evidenced by the visit of a group from Sri Lanka to participate in our Festival Kreole/Laserenade Enternasyonal de Victoria this month.
It is very encouraging to note increasing Sri Lankan interest to invest in Seychelles. For example, we have seen Lanka Hospitals PLC open a branch here recently, and also other medical related businesses such as the eye care outlet Pure Vision Care.
It is important to note that our governments have put in place a number of mechanisms to promote trade and investment between our two countries, including a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement signed in 2011 and the MoU to promote investment between the Seychelles Investment Board (STB) and the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka signed in 2014.
It goes without saying that as two island nations sharing the same ocean, our two countries share similar challenges, from climate change to illegal drug trafficking.
The erosion of our coastal environment and severe changes in weather patterns have a serious effect on our agricultural and fisheries sectors. In light of this, it is of utmost importance that we continue in our joint efforts to raise awareness on the damage caused by climate change.
In the region, we also face challenges such as drug trafficking, money laundering, piracy and illegal fishing.
The fight against the drug scourge and illicit trafficking is an ongoing one for both of us. We should therefore join all our efforts to find common solutions to these social ills.
The experience of Sri Lanka in the field of maritime security can greatly contribute to regional efforts. Together, both Sri Lanka as the Secretariat, and Seychelles as Co-Chair with the UAE, of the Working Group on Operations at Sea in the Contact Group on Piracy on the Coast of Somalia; we play a key role in fighting crime at sea.
I am very pleased that we have agreed to establish coordination mechanisms between our two police forces, particularly in the sharing of intelligence and capacity building, in order to counter criminal activity, especially in disrupting the narcotic trafficking routes.
Thank you once again for graciously accepting our invitation. I am confident that your visit will set the tone for an even more intensive and vibrant collaboration between our two countries, and consolidate the brotherly relations between our two nations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
May I invite you to join me in a toast to:
• The good health and success of his Excellency, Mr Maithripala Sirisena, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka,
• The continued progress and prosperity of our two countries;
• and the lasting friendship between Seychelles and Sri Lanka.
I thank you.