President Michel meets with EUNAVFOR Operation Commander
Thu, 05 March 2015
President James Michel met with Major General Martin Smith, MBE, Operation Commander of the European Union Naval Force Somalia, at State House this morning.
The operation commander, who was appointed in August 2014, was accompanied by the French Ambassador to Seychelles, Mrs. Genevieve Iancu, and the British High Commissioner to Seychelles, Mrs. Lindsay Skoll.
President Michel thanked the EUNAVFOR for the wide-ranging support it provides to Seychelles in the fight against piracy, and expressed his satisfaction that the EUNAVFOR mandate had been extended to the end of 2016.
“Maritime security is our common good and an element of our collective human security for the stability of our region. It is important for island and coastal states of the Indian Ocean region to take ownership of our shared maritime safety and security, to depend on ourselves, and in collaboration with our international partners, bring about peace and security to the region,” said President Michel.
Major General Smith commended the leadership role that Seychelles has played in the fight against piracy, especially in the legal prosecution of pirates.
President Michel said that Seychelles would continue to do its utmost, with the development of its human resource capacity and other resources, to ensure the ocean space becomes once again an area of prosperity; for the Blue Economy to prosper as the maritime security is enabled.
They also discussed the ways that counter-piracy operations would progress in the post-2016 period, both the military and civilian efforts to bring stability to Somalia.
Speaking to the Seychelles media at State House, Major General Smith said; “The threat of piracy still exists and the ultimate solution to piracy is on land, in Somalia, and that may take some time to achieve. So the EU has extended the operation for a further two years and I think that is a very clear sign that the EU sees itself as remaining in the counter-piracy domain in the Indian Ocean… we will support regional states in setting up a regional maritime security strategy which will eventually allow the region to continue to provide security for itself. We understand that this may take some time but we are partners and we will remain with you.”
Major General Smith is based at the EUNAVFOR Headquarters at Northwood in the United Kingdom.
Also present at the meeting were the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Transport, Mr. Joel Morgan, the President’s Diplomatic Advisor, Ambassador Callixte D’Offay, the Military Attaché to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lieutenant, Colonel Georges Adeline, and EUNAVFOR political advisor, Mr. Jean Heilbronn.