Ambassador Mrs Usha Dwarka-Canabady, Secretary for Foreign Affairs
Son Excellence Monsieur Hamada Madi, Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Commission
Mr Om Kumar Dabidin, Permanent Secretary of the Prime Minister's Office
Mr M. D. Phokeer, Director of the Regional Integration Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade
Heads of Delegation and Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Senior officials from countries of the region
Representatives from international organisations
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great honour for me to be here today for the Senior Officials Meeting of the Ministerial Conference on Maritime Security in the Western Indian Ocean region and to make a few opening remarks on behalf of the EU.
I am particularly happy that the European Union is co-funding this Ministerial Conference. This is an important example of our partnership with Mauritius and other countries of this region.
I would like to thank here the Government of Mauritius and the Indian Ocean Commission for organising this meeting and to welcome all the delegates.
You will all hear time and again during this conference:
That our seas and oceans are facing increasing pressures.
That trafficking and piracy destroys the potential of the blue economy.
And that we have to address those pressures.
And that to do so, we need to act together; we need to manage more effectively human activities affecting our seas and oceans.
We need better ocean governance and improved coordination between the various organisations responsible for preserving and protecting the seas and oceans.
We need a coherent and comprehensive approach involving all sectors.
But most of all, we need to focus on how we can improve cooperation between all actors engaged in delivering maritime security and safety within the region.
The key question is how we can adopt a practical and effective approach based on fair and transparent rules for all, allowing us to secure our oceans and to manage their resources in a sustainable manner.
Last year, the first ministerial conference addressed various important topics, such as regional maritime security mechanisms, counter-terrorism, risks of disasters at sea to name a few.
We agreed on a number of follow-up actions.
Today, we are here looking forward to seeing what has been done concretely since last year's conference and how we can support strategies and policies that are in place and establish further means of working together.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Sustainable development and peace and security are two sides of the same coin. Development and security go hand-in-hand. There can be no sustainable development without security, stability and peace.
The European Union is working with all of your countries to implement concrete actions to improve security conditions and management.
The European Union is committed to contributing to maritime security around the world, including the Indian Ocean. Allow me to highlight four examples of how we put this commitment into practice.
First, I would like to recall the first European Union Naval Force Operation ATALANTA which is a success widely acknowledged by countries in this region and by the maritime community at large.
Second, the EU assumed the Presidency of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia in 2014 for two years.
Third, the EU funds the MASE programme (to the amount of 42.5 million Euros). The MaSe is a key strategic initiative to promote maritime security in the Eastern and Southern African and Indian Ocean region.
Four, a new programme of 28 million euros on Port and Maritime Security and Safety for the region. This programme, coupled with the support of MASE, will enhance the capacities of countries of the region in areas such as maritime governance, coast guard preparedness, and strengthen maritime law enforcement capacity.
Allow me to spend a few moments on the MaSe programme and to the new regional approach to maritime security.
The MaSe Programme has contributed to the establishment of the Regional Coordination Operational Centre in Seychelles as well as the Regional Information Fusion Centre based in Madagascar.
Countries of the region have acknowledged the need to enhance information sharing and to coordinate actions at sea at regional level.
This has led to the signature, during the first maritime conference in Mauritius of April 2018, of two regional agreements for the Setting up of a Regional Maritime Information Exchange and Sharing Mechanism and for the Coordination of Operations at Sea.
I would like here to commend the signatory countries which have already finalised the secondment process of their respective Liaison officers to the two regional centres.
In fact, we can already witness positive outcomes from these cooperative agreements. For instance, important drug seizures have been carried out by countries of the region thanks to timely information sharing.
I wish that more countries would join Comoros, Djibouti, France, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles as signatories of the regional agreements.
I believe that these agreements constitute key milestones to improve maritime coordination and governance in the region.
The EU is supporting the process by providing the necessary equipment for setting up information fusion platforms, so that participating countries can interact with the two regional centres and by funding joint operations at sea to combat maritime crimes.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
One year after the signature of the two regional agreements by countries of the region, we need to take stock on how the previous Conference commitments have been implemented.
It is also important to work on a roadmap for the region that would help to develop an integrated response to maritime security challenges. The EU stands ready to support his exercise. The representatives of EU NAVFOR, EU CAP Somalia, MASE, CRIMARIO and the Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development of the European Commission are with us this week and will be involved in the discussions.
On this note, I wish you fruitful deliberations for this Senior Officials Meeting and a successful conference.
Thank you for your attention.