Seychelles President Michel has had “very fruitful and engaging” discussions with Australian Prime Minister HE Ms. Julia Gillard, as he continues with his state visit to Australia. The President is in Canberra, after his first stop in Melbourne, and he is expected to proceed to Townsville in Queensland on the next leg of his visit.
“The people of Australia and Seychelles share a similar world view based on a strong desire to protect the uniqueness of the respective national identities, while also being societies that recognize that they are part of an interconnected world. Seychelles is a natural partner for Australia in the Indian Ocean,” said the President.
Prime Minister Gillard has indicated that Australia is increasingly looking West, as a country that wants to contribute positively in the development of the Indian Ocean and values the partnership with Seychelles.
The two leaders covered a number of topics of mutual interest, including education, the environment, issues concerning Small Island Developing States, climate change, security of the Indian Ocean including piracy, as well as possibilities for trade and investment.
On the subject of education, the President thanked Australia for its support in providing scholarships to masters students in a number of fields at world-class Australian universities. During the visit, the two countries are also looking to strengthen their university-to-university links. On the subject of the environment and climate change, the President congratulated Australia for its proactive stance on the subject. The two countries are working together to bridge the gap between developing and developed countries towards reaching a binding agreement on climate change in Durban later this year. Seychelles has called for specific funds to be made available for climate change adaptation, as these fast-track funds have not been accelerated as they should have been. Many middle income Small Island Developing States are also not able to access such funds at present.
The President and the Prime Minister also discussed the possibility of increased institutional support for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), and the Australian government has pledged to ensure that this happens.
On the subject of piracy, the two leaders agreed to reinforce bilateral cooperation, as well as their respective efforts as part of the international fight against piracy. Seychelles was praised for its work in prosecuting pirates. The subject will also be raised in the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to be held in Perth in October this year.