Dear Friends of the CGPCS,
The announcement at the 18th Plenary Session of the CGPCS this past July that the CGPCS Presidency would be handed over from the European Union to the Republic of Seychelles, shows that efforts made in recent years by the Seychelles, have been duly recognized by the international community. We need not be reminded that Seychelles has been fully enaged and a very active country in the region, this in the fight against piracy.
As the incoming chair of the CGPCS for 2016, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the European Union for the confidence and trust they have put in Seychelles, and to every member of the contact group, for the support shown.
Today, acts of piracy may have fallen dramatically but as we all can appreciate not eniterely gone from the radar screen. Instability in Somalia still persists and now the added threats brought about by other criminal organisations who traffic in arms, drugs, and human trafficking, means that the vigilant and focused approach that brought like minded states and entities together to combat piracy in the first place, must now more than ever must not be lost for there is a mission that needs to be accomplished. That mission as well calls for all mariners currently held hostage by various pirate groups to be released and to be returned home.
Any instability in the region brought about by criminal international organisations and with the added threat of piracy which is still there, can disrupt not only the region’s economic development and well being, but farther afield, that of our global trading partners as well. The Indian Ocean as a ‘Zone of Peace and Opportunity’ a key, message for our presidency in 2016, suggests that our focused efforts together will see us as a group achieving to bring about what we all desire.
The importance for Seychelles, as a nation within the region, entrusted with the chairmanship of the contact group, is therefore even more meaningful, considering that it was from within the region that acts of piracy occured, threatening not only the Western Indian Ocean but well beyond the horizons as well. As a result, regional participation and leadership will be one of the areas that the Seychelles as chair will drive. Piracy having started within the region and off the coast of Somalia, makes it even more important that as a region that we add to what will be the end of piracy in totality in the Indian Ocean and off the coast of Somalia.
The Seychelles agenda as chair, will therefore be an agenda for the region based on wide consultations with regional partners to seek actively their opinions, views, expectations on issues of importance, a shared experience, which has the backing of the contact group as a community.
I am fully confident that together we can influence post 2016 decisions to ensure that the work within the contact group goes on and by so doing, creating a long lasting legacy that will serve the group and all others, from the region, to the region and beyond, well after the original work of the CGPCS comes to its end.