President’s UAE visit strengthens military support

President James Michel and his delegation have returned to Seychelles following a working visit to the United Arab Emirates.

The main purpose of the visit was to further develop the potential for military cooperation between the two countries.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been initialled outlining proposed patrols by UAE naval forces in Seychelles’ waters.

On behalf of the Seychelles authorities, chief of defence forces Brigadier Leopold Payet signed the agreement, which follows extensive talks between the two parties and will pave the way for a more detailed agreement on cooperation in military matters. 

Following the wave of pirate attacks in our region earlier in the year, President Michel called on all regional partners and countries with interests in the region to come together to fight this scourge through a coordinated approach. 

This call has been heeded by many countries that have enhanced their cooperation with Seychelles either through existing agreements or by signing new Status of Forces Agreements.

These include talks held with key bilateral partners such as India, the United States, France, the UK, the European Union and the People’s Republic of China.

The UAE armed forces have now joined in this process in view of the excellent friendly relations between the two countries.

“The United Arab Emirates is one of our key partners and it marks a natural progression that we extend our excellent existing cooperation to the military field,” said Mr Michel. 

“As the calmer weather approaches, we expect piracy attempts to increase. Our forces are ready.  And through the various agreements we are signing with key players in the region, we are ensuring a better coverage of our waters.”

Following on from the MoU, the two countries will further formalise their cooperation through an agreement on military cooperation – expected to be signed in the coming months. This agreement will cover joint training and exercises as well as mutual support offered by the two forces.

The visit was also a chance for the two countries to further exchange views on cooperation in the field of renewable energy.

The UAE is positioning itself as a global leader in the field after recently winning the right to host the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena).

Seychelles signed an agreement with Masdar, the UAE future energy company, in 2009 that set the conditions to develop renewable energy in Seychelles, notably through wind power.

The Masdar wind project involves a potential investment of over US $25 million and can make a significant impact in helping provide electricity from alternative sources. This investment is also expected to lead to new employment opportunities in the field.

Following initial studies, the meteorological towers needed to measure the wind power in Seychelles will be put up early next year.  If the initial results are confirmed, Seychelles could be benefiting from wind energy in less than two years.

The newly formed Seychelles Energy Commission is working with Masdar to ensure Seychelles can take concrete strides towards reducing its dependence on fossil fuels.

“We all remember how hard the fuel crisis of 2008 hit us. Our efforts to explore alternative energy sources are part of our approach of ensuring the sustainability of our nation’s development,” said Mr Michel.

“This has always been at the crux of our reform process. We appreciate the interest of the UAE government in supporting us in this endeavour.”

The President was accompanied on this trip by Jean-Paul Adam, secretary of state in the Office of the President, and Brigadier Payet.

Source: NATIION 9-9-09