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Statement to The Hindu newspaper following interview with President Michel

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Statement to The Hindu newspaper following interview with President Michel

Thu, 24 December 2015

Statement to The Hindu newspaper following interview with President Michel

Following an incorrect article in The Hindu after an email interview with President James Michel, the Office of the President has issued the statement below to the newspaper’s Editor, Malini Parthasarathy.

 

The Hindu

New Delhi

Dear Editor,

I request an immediate retraction of the following words;

‘Seychelles committed to Indian naval base’

A plot of land for India to build its first naval base in the Indian Ocean region has been allocated by the Seychelles government in the Assumption Island.

-which are found in this article;

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/seychelles-committed-to-indian-naval-base/article8022404.ece

The above statements are not correct and grossly misrepresent the words of President James Michel. I attach[below] the email communication between myself and the journalist, Kallol Bhattacherjee .

As you will see at no point in the interview did the President say that Seychelles is committed to an Indian naval base. A Seychelles base will be developed on Assumption Island, and  India is partnering in and aiding Seychelles in this joint project.

We have explained this issue in the past to press as it keeps being misrepresented by media in India. See:

http://www.seychellesnewsagency.com/articles/2590/There+is+no+lease+says+SPDF+chief+of+staff++India+to+help+build+facilities+for+Seychelles+defence+forces+on+Assumption

It was also reported on by IANS http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/india-begins-infrastructure-work-on-assumption-island-of-seychelles-115082601327_1.html

Please retract the words and issue a correction with apology at your earliest.

Yours sincerely,

Srdjana Janosevic

Chief Press Secretary

 

From: Srdjana Janosevic

Sent: Tuesday, December 22, 2015 1:59 PM
To: Kallol Bhattacherjee
Subject: RE: Congratulations!

Dear Kallol,

My apologises for the delay.

 

Here are the President's answers;

 

 

Questionnaire for Honourable President James Michel of Seychelles

1. What new initiatives are being planned for the year ahead between Seychelles and India?

 

Seychelles and India are natural partners linked by the same Ocean and connected by a common heritage and culture. Historically we have worked closely both at a political level and people to people level to consolidate our special relationship.

This year will bring greater impetus to our bonds of friendship as we seek newer avenues of cooperation to bring our nations and peoples even closer together.

In particular, we very much appreciate the latest donation by the Indian Government- a Patrol Vessel to be handed over to the Government of Seychelles in mid January 2016. This newest addition, strengthening the capacity of the Seychelles Coast Guard, will go a long way in ensuring the continued safety of our common Indian Ocean.

 

Both India and Seychelles have a vested interest in securitising the Western Indian Ocean. We have forged a partnership that has gone a fair distance in eradicating the scourge of Somalia based piracy as well as other maritime security issues.

As Seychelles takes the Chairmanship of the Contact Group for Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) we acknowledge India’s key role in this endeavour. The Government of Seychelles will be organising a Strategic Meeting of the CGPCS to be held in Mumbai on 30 January,highlighting this facet of our cooperation. These are only some of our common initiatives planned for the coming year as well as completing other projects already on-going.

2. What new developments have taken place in the field of security and ocean safety between India and Seychelles since the visit of Prime Minister Modi to Seychelles?

It was a great honour for us to welcome Prime Minister Modi to Seychelles. He is a very good friend of ours. During his visit we fortified our bilateral relations and signed several cooperation agreements, which are now coming to fruition.

Concretely, the Coastal Radar Project is on schedule to be fully operational by March 2016.  This is a significant development for Seychelles’ and India’s mutual desire for security in the field of maritime security.

3. Has India begun work for infrastructure development in the Assumption Island of Seychelles? Are there any legal issues before India can begin work in the Assumption Island?

There are no legal issues whatsoever and there never were any. This is a joint project between India and Seychelles involving our two Defence Forces in enhancing our mutual security along our western seaboard. Enhancing security in the maritime space that we share is in our mutual interest, as is cooperation between our Defence Forces. The Seychelles side is absolutely committed to this project and has as such already designated an area on the island for the project to move ahead. The infrastructural development on Assumption is however still at the ‘Development Project Report’ stage as we await the relevant authorities in India to assess the project.

4. India had promised to provide visa free travel to Seychelles citizens for 3-months. Has India kept that promise?

As mentioned earlier, India is a good friend and following the announcement of visa free travel we are happy to note that our citizens have been able to visit India for both pleasure and business without any hindrance.This kind of concrete cooperation is further testament to both nations’ desire to increase people-to-people relationships and spur economic and cultural activities between our two countries.

 

5. What kind of anti-piracy threats do you foresee for the Seychelles archipelago? Do you think India can help Seychelles deal with international financing that pirates seem to benefit for? Are there any specific steps that you are taking with India that you can share with?

 

India has been a steadfast partner supporting our anti-piracy efforts. Furthermore India also offers vast experience in dealing with such threats, which helps in our own capacity building.

I would like to highlight the tangible steps to be taken in this regard. At the request of India, Seychelles is open to joining the Maritime Security Council, which would further boost our defence cooperation and police our maritime spaces.

India, which has vast resources at its disposal – including, but not limited to – intelligence networks and services will also play an instrumental role in helping Seychelles deal with the international financing of piracy.

6. Seychelles is an important country due to the utmost importance of the Indian Ocean region for energy trade and great power rivalry. In that context, do you think Seychelles is under pressure from various big countries in the world?

We recognise that Seychelles is geostrategically positioned and is a gateway between the Eastern and Western hemispheres. Seychelles is also acutely of its own sovereignty and its inherent right to self-determination without interference.

We have time and again maintained that right is not might and that small states like our own have an equal voice in international affairs. India and our other allies share this belief. We share common values and principles. We share a common vision for an Indian Ocean Zone of Peace.

7. Congratulations on your victory once again! But why was there a controversy at your re-election?  Is democracy in Seychelles also under pressure from geo-political forces?

I thank you. I was elected freely and fairly by the people of Seychelles for a third and last mandate. I see no controversy in that, nor in a hard-fought election that in the end was testament to the democratic process and pluralism, which exist in Seychelles today. In any election, one will generally emerge victorious whilst not the other. What is important is to respect the rule of law and the institutions as prescribed by the Constitution of Seychelles. Should there be grievances all parties are free to use the judicial process freely available to them.Our democracy is vibrant and strong enough to withstand any form of pressure, both internal and external.


Kind regards,

Srdjana Janosevic (Ms.)
Chief Press Secretary  
Office of the President | State House | P.O Box 55, Victoria | Mahé | Republic of Seychelles.
|Website: www.statehouse.gov.sc |Twitter: Follow @StateHouseSey


From: Kallol Bhattacherjee

Sent: Monday, December 21, 2015 1:49 PM

To: Srdjana Janosevic
Subject: Re: Congratulations!

 

Oh Ok. Will wait.

Regards

Kallol

On Mon, Dec 21, 2015 at 3:18 PM, Srdjana Janosevic  wrote:

I am sorry but I have not had response back yet. I will send when I get it. Sorry again.


Kind regards,

Srdjana Janosevic (Ms.)
Chief Press Secretary  
Office of the President | State House | P.O Box 55, Victoria | Mahé | Republic of Seychelles.
|Website: www.statehouse.gov.sc |Twitter: Follow @StateHouseSey

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