Your Excellency, Danny Faure President of the Republic of Seychelles,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me at the outset to express my sincere appreciation to President Faure for his kind words addressed to me and my delegation.
I bring you greetings and good wishes from the people of the Maldives. Fazna and I thank Your Excellency, the people and the Government of Seychelles for the warm welcome and generous hospitality accorded to us, and members of the delegation since our arrival in Victoria.
As sister nations of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives and Seychelles share strong historical and cultural bonds. The long-standing friendship and cooperation between our two countries are evident not only in the partnership between our two Governments, but also in the close ties between our two peoples, and in virtually every facet of our lives.
The first of July this year marked the 39th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. But our relationship and our history have long been intertwined in the midst of time, and by the tides of the great Indian Ocean. Let me share an interesting anecdote.
Back in the day, the Maldives was famous amongst great seafarers for its engagement in a very niche global trade. What was sold and bought were gifts of the sea, which the natives of our islands found washed up on the beaches or picked up from the sea, from time to time.
It was said that the “God of the Sea” sent them as gifts, and that these gifts brought good fortune to those who found them. The locals thought they were fruits from mysterious trees which grew at the bottom of the sea. The miraculous power believed to be contained in these fruits meant that they were sold at exorbitant prices to wealthy buyers from across the world.
The fruit became famously called as Maldives Coconuts or Lodoicea maldivica, or as they are more famously known, “Coco de Mer” .
In fact, the Coco de Mer was never grown in the Maldives. And it was later discovered that the heavenly gifts that Maldivians readily accepted, were actually, gifts from Seychelles, our neighbour across the Indian Ocean, carried with the waves and currents of the ocean that bind us together.
This is just one such story…
Yet, despite the proximity, the similarity, and the shared history, my visit to Seychelles, commemorates the first-ever visit of a Maldivian Head of State to your beautiful nation and marks an important milestone in the long history of bilateral relations between our two countries.
This is reflective of the renewed determination and goodwill of our two Governments to this relationship, and our commitment to cherish and strengthen our friendship.
Both our nations have much to gain from sharing our experiences and expertise in numerous fields, with each other.
The collaboration between our two countries has gained new heights in recent years, especially in key sectors such as tourism, trade and investment. A number of Maldivian businessmen have well-established investments in Seychelles. Likewise, the Maldives hosts several prominent Seychellois businesses within our shores.
The 7 Agreements and Memorandums of Understanding signed during this visit signals the willingness on our parts to exchange knowledge, increase cooperation, and move towards shared mutual progress.
The General Cooperation Agreement between our two Governments, as well as the MoU on Cooperation between our Ministries of Foreign Affairs, will further strengthen our existing bilateral relations and pave the way for even more collaboration in various sectors.
It is my opinion that these two agreements represent the embodiment of our growing goodwill and positive intentions for the future.
As Small Island Developing States, for both the Maldives and Seychelles, the very essence of our being is connected deeply to the ocean. Our challenges and vulnerabilities in all aspects can only be understood in its entirety by a few.
Maldives considers itself extremely fortunate to have a neighbour such as the Seychelles, with whom we can share these unique concerns in order to deliver extraordinary solutions.
As we sign the MoU on Tourism Development, the MoU on Cooperation in the Blue Economy Sector as well as the MoU for Cooperation in Climate Change, the opening of this era of sustainable developmental cooperation between the Maldives and Seychelles promises to be one of innovation and excellence.
The recently concluded Indian Ocean Island Games will undoubtedly remain one of the freshest, most treasured memories of the year 2019 for many Maldivians. This remembrance is further sweetened by the prospect of hosting the Indian Ocean Island Games in the Maldives in the year 2023.
The Maldives is thankful to Seychelles for the continued support and assistance it has wholeheartedly given for the Maldives’ bid. On behalf of all Maldivians, especially our sporting community, I thank you, Your Excellency, for facilitating this proud moment for the Maldives.
The MoU on Sports Cooperation, as well the MoU for Vocational Training and Youth Development Cooperation will prove instrumental in working towards my Government’s goal of empowering our communities through more engagement with the youth.
It is my hope that these agreements will also give more opportunities for young people to flourish and grow, in their chosen spheres of interest.
The Maldives and Seychelles; we are small island nations, with big dreams, and great determination. I believe it is our duty, as Leaders of our respective Governments, to navigate the shared tides and turbulences, to lead our people to the peaceful and prosperous destination that they desire.
Your Excellency, it is my hope that this visit is the beginning of many such interactions between our two countries. On behalf of the Government of Maldives, may I also take this opportunity to invite Your Excellency, to visit our own beautiful island paradise in the near future.