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Statement by Foreign Secretary in Victoria (January 27, 2018)

January 27, 2018

Your Excellency Vice President & Foreign Minister Mr. Vincent Meriton
Your Excellency Amb. Barry Faure, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen

Relations with countries in the Indian Ocean Region and nurturing a climate of peace and stability are important cornerstones of India’s foreign policy. Our vision for the region is based on cooperation and collective action to tackle maritime security challenges.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his landmark visit to the region in March 2015 clearly articulated our Indian Ocean doctrine. In his words, and I quote, "Our goal is to seek a climate of trust and transparency; respect for international maritime rules and norms by all countries; sensitivity to each other’s interests; peaceful resolution of maritime issues; and increase in maritime cooperation. We seek a future for Indian Ocean that lives up to the name of ‘SAGAR’ – Security And Growth for All in the Region” (Unquote). SAGAR in Hindi means the Ocean. This SAGAR doctrine succinctly outlines our vision for the region with collaboration as its backbone.

It is in pursuance of this approach that India and Seychelles have over the years built an elaborate architecture of defence and security cooperation. As two maritime neighbours, we have a stake in each other’s security and safety. Seychelles with its Exclusive Economic Zone spread over 1.3 million square kilometers is particularly vulnerable. Recognising this, India and Seychelles have drawn up a cooperation agenda that covers within its purview joint efforts in anti-piracy operations, and enhanced EEZ surveillance and monitoring to prevent intrusions by potential economic offenders indulging in illegal fishing, poaching, drug and human trafficking. The cooperation is further exemplified by the operationalisation of the Coastal Surveillance Radar System in March 2016, and our commitment to augment Seychelles’ defence assets and capability. We are proud of the role played by Patrol Ships Topaz, Constant and Hermes and the Dornier Aircraft in securing the resource rich waters of Seychelles. In recognition of our strategic convergence in the Indian Ocean region, the Agreement that we sign today is an incremental step forward in further deepening our cooperation in the spirit of our unique bilateral ties.

Indeed, we are proud of our close bond of friendship with the Republic of Seychelles that has stood the test of time. We embarked on the journey together when Seychelles was born as a sovereign nation four decades ago. On 29th June 1976 when Seychelles celebrated its independence, India was there with a large contingent onboard a naval ship to partake in your celebrations and heartily welcome Seychelles into the comity of sovereign nations. Our traditional linkages have now culminated into a mutually beneficial relationship based on shared values and commitment to the ideals of democracy and development. India is committed to further expanding its development partnership with Seychelles. We will be happy to collaborate with the Government of Seychelles in implementing your priority projects through a mix of grants and Lines of Credit.

We in India greatly value our bilateral engagement with Seychelles. We have withstood several global challenges together, ranging from the threat of climate change to the piracy menace. Notwithstanding the turbulent waters, our partnership has had a smooth sailing. This reinforces our commitment to not only further deepen India-Seychelles relations but also take our partnership to the next level.

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