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Seychelles , 30th April, 2012


I bring to you warm greetings, good wishes and best regards from the people of India, from the Members of the Indian Parliament, and from the Government of India.

I am honoured to have the privilege to address this special session of the National Assembly of Seychelles, the pillar of democracy of your beautiful country.

I am fascinated by the unique splendour of this paradise island. I am deeply touched by the warm welcome extended to me and my delegation by the friendly people of Seychelles.

Hon'ble Speaker,

Our peoples and our countries are connected by the Indian Ocean, the trade winds and the monsoon. The bonds between us are rich and infused with history. We share a common legacy of colonialism and a struggle to free our nations. India's struggle for freedom was a unique movement for democracy, justice and equality. It was led by Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of our Nation - an important bridge between India and the African continent. It was the cradle of Africa that turned the barrister into a Mahatma, who remains the symbol of peace and, non-violence as also hope all over the world as it strives for global stability and security.

India and Seychelles are two vibrant democracies that share common values like expression of popular will, respect for liberty and human rights, adult suffrage, rule of law and equality. India's experience has shown to the world how development can be addressed within the constitutional and democratic frameworks; how aspirations of millions can flourish in a pluralistic society and how diversity can be unifying as well. Democracy in India has remained strong and peoples' faith in the system has remained alive and vibrant, as reflected in huge turnouts in all stages of elections to our Parliament and state assemblies.

We, in India, have great admiration for Seychelles's strong democratic traditions, for its economic reforms, for the impressive human and social development indicators it has attained.

In a democracy, Parliaments are the forums to understand and address people's aspirations and their developmental needs, and to focus on various aspects of governance, which impact on the well-being of the people. We also believe that Parliaments can play a role in building greater understanding between the peoples of different countries. India would like to increase cooperation between our two Parliaments, and there should be more exchange of visits between the Members of Parliaments. With this aim in view we invited young MPs from African countries for mutually beneficial interactions with their Indian counterparts last month. I am happy that one of the young lady MPs from Seychelles had participated in the programme. I am happy that MPs from India are with me during this visit. We would like to continue such interactions.

India and Seychelles enjoy close relations. The links between our two countries extend to every aspect of human life, be it social, economic, cultural, intellectual or political. Our relations are characterized by regular high level visits and political consultation, both at the highest and official levels. President Michel's State visit to India in June 2010 was historic as were his visits in 2011 and 2012. He has been instrumental in building up the relationship between our two countries over the years. These visits has strengthened co-operation in all fields. India would like to continue as an important partner of Seychelles in its development process. We are now entering a new phase of increased bilateral relationship. There is so much to gain and benefit through mutual help and understanding. Let us expand cooperation in areas such as economic and commercial, tourism including eco-tourism, and environment, apart from the existing cooperation in defence and security, education, health and human resource development.

Seychelles has ethnic links with three continents - Asia, Africa and Europe. It is uniquely placed to play a role in our efforts to achieve better integration of our policies with Africa. There is nothing metaphorical when we say that the trade winds take us to Africa via Seychelles. Shared values have enabled our two countries to have a common vision and common goals in our bilateral and multilateral ties. As members of the NAM, United Nations, Commonwealth and IOR-ARC, both the countries have played an important and cooperative role in these multilateral bodies. We have maintained close cooperation in multilateral fora mindful of each other's vital interests and considering them as our own.

Peace and security has always remained the primary pre-condition for development. Attainable and Sustainable peace can only be achieved by curbing the acts of violence, conflicts and terrorism. There is a common need to be vigilant against this common threat. I would like to thank the people of Seychelles for their principled and consistent support to India on the issue of terrorism. The fight against terrorism has to be comprehensive and sustained, and for that we need to isolate the elements who instigate, support or assist terrorism, in any form, as much as those who perpetrate it. The issue of terrorism has been made more complex with the challenge posed by piracy. The issue of piracy, though not new, has brought a new dimension to the threat it posed to the peaceful Indian Ocean. This is affecting India as well as Seychelles, and many other countries by threatening security of our sea-lanes of trade and communication. India acknowledges the immense courage and conviction demonstrated by Seychelles in tackling the problem of piracy.

India would continue to extend cooperation to Seychelles in the fight against piracy as has been the case during the last few years. Indian naval ships make regular visits to Seychelles to safeguard the Exclusive Economic Zone of Seychelles.

We are living in an era in which most global problems and their solutions pertain to developing nations like ours and it is the demand of our time that our global institutions reflect this reality. There is a need to expand the UN Security Council to make it more representative and effective to address challenges of the 21st Century. In this context, I would like to convey our sincere appreciation for the support of the Government of Seychelles to India's candidature for the permanent membership of an expanded UN Security Council.

Hon'ble Speaker

Once again may I express my gratitude to you for having given me this opportunity to share my thoughts with the Honourable members of the National Assembly of Seychelles. It was, indeed, a great privilege and rare honour for me. I wish the very best to every one of you. May God bless your country and all the inhabitants, with ever increasing prosperity, success and glory.

Thank you.

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