“The fight against drugs is a national priority and just like we mobilised regional and international help and support in the fight against piracy the same effort can be put in rallying for help and support from different countries and organisations to help us combat the scourge,” Ambassador Claude Morel, the Foreign Secretary responsible for the Department of Foreign Affairs has said.
Speaking to the press yesterday only a day after assuming his new responsibility following the resignation of Ambassador Marie-Louise Potter, Ambassador Morel added that there is no way we can win the fight against drugs alone stressing on the need for a broader and reinforced cooperation with neighbouring countries, international partners and organisations because it is clear today that drug traffickers are using the sea to conduct their business and this calls for reinforced maritime security measures.
“My aim is to see our work and effort in the area of diplomacy both at regional and international levels respond to some of the challenges we face nationally, that our actions as diplomats contribute to bringing solutions to some of the major problems we are facing such as fighting drug trafficking and abuse,” he said.
Illegal fishing is another issue which Ambassador Morel said can be better addressed with the help and support of other countries through broader cooperation agreements.
But Ambassador Morel stressed that before further broadening and exploring cooperation agreements with international partners we should explore, strengthen and consolidate cooperation with our neighbours in the region.
“There are indeed great potentials for development close to us,” Ambassador Morel said.
“There are also great possibilities to extend further our cooperation with our immediate neighbours so as to be able to explore the vast potentials that some of these countries of the region can offer both for us as well as the whole region,” he said, giving as example Madagascar which has a lot of potential for trade which he considers “a sleeping giant” which is waking up to become the powerhouse of the Indian Ocean the same way South Africa has become the powerhouse of the region.
Ambassador Morel said diplomacy can be used to ease trade and commerce between Seychelles and this neighbouring giant and at very competitive tariffs while at the same time ensuring that strict phytosanitary measures and regulations are adhered to.
He stressed that diplomacy could also be used to engage the help and support of regional and international trade bodies and institutions when it comes to quality and standard of goods and products.
With regard to relations with another of our neighbour Mauritius, Ambassador Morel said the two countries enjoy a traditional and long lasting relation which can be revisited and extended to other sectors.
Following the recent signing of a fishing agreement between the two countries Ambassador Morel announced that in a few weeks another agreement in the field of education is expected to be signed and this will allow for the Ministry of Education to recruit teachers from Mauritius.
“This would be a great advantage for us in various aspects – better communication and interactions between teachers and pupils as we share the same language and culture,” Ambassador Morel stated.
Further to that Seychelles will also be benefiting from Mauritian expertise in its drug rehabilitation programmes as recently announced.
Cooperation with the island of Reunion up to now has focused mainly on health and tourism but Ambassador Morel said there are great potentials for it to be extended to other areas.
With the Comoros, the island has already expressed the great desire to learn from Seychelles’ experience in tourism and fisheries.
Ambassador Morel has a wealth of experience as a seasoned diplomat who has represented Seychelles and been responsible for several embassies and diplomatic missions in different countries for many years. In 2003 he received the support of the government, as representative of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) in Madagascar to help the country come out of a political stalemate and for one year he was posted there where he was involved with the Malagasy authorities at the highest level helping mediation efforts while liaising with and reporting to the IOC secretary general at that time, Jean Claude de L’Estrac.
“The experience gained during that period has also broadened my perspective and increased my conviction that the region has a lot of potential waiting to be tapped into,” Ambassador Morel added.
Ambassador Morel said he accepted the position of Foreign Secretary at the Department of Foreign Affairs with humility and confidence, joy and enthusiasm at a time when we are going through an exciting national and international dynamism.
He said he is ready to deliver as per the mandate which has been entrusted to him by President Danny Faure.
“Diplomacy is evolving and is not static and we need to readjust to adapt to new regional and international realities.
“I aim to lead the Department of Foreign Affairs with a high level of professionalism, integrity, ensuring that we always aim for excellence in all the work we do and that we remain focused on deriving the maximum benefits and outcomes for the betterment of our people and country,” Ambassador Morel said.
Ambassador Morel said he has committed himself and engaged the team he leads to work with professionalism, noting that in line with President Faure’s vision for good governance, transparency, accountability, mediocrity will not be tolerated and there will be zero tolerance of any suspicion of fraud or corruption.
Ambassador Morel said he is very much encouraged by the team he is leading and he is convinced he will work to ensure that Seychelles continues to get the respect it deserves, that its voice at international fora is listened to, well heard, respected and appreciated.
Asked to comment on Ambassador Marie-Louise Potter’s resignation following allegations that she could not see eye to eye with PS Michele Murray, Ambassador Morel had no comments on that and said the question should be addressed to Mrs Potter herself as he himself has just assumed his responsibility . He said he has an excellent working relationship with PS Murray and is confident in the team under his responsibility.
He said among his first moves will be to conduct a review of the department’s operations and strategies both at the internal level locally and at the level of embassies and the network of consulates abroad.
“We need to further explore and strengthen our working collaborations and bring it to another level by deriving the most benefits from the potential of the large number of consuls in various parts of the world. They are the links and the bridge between Seychelles and those countries where they are based,” Ambassador Morel said.
With regard to encouraging more foreign investments, Ambassador Morel said over the years, through strong cooperation with strategic partners and multilateral organisations a solid base for these has already been laid and he plans to step up effort on the same base while exploring ways to further strengthen and broaden this cooperation.
As to the various developments taking place on the world stage, Ambassador Morel said the Department of Foreign Affairs is closely observing and following all that is happening more particularly the BREXIT situation whereby the United Kingdom has voted itself out of the European Union (EU), as well as the change of administration in the United States.