Designated Minister and Minister of Home Affairs , Macsuzy Mondon,
Secretary of State, Barry Faure,
Hon Nicolas Prea, Speaker of the National Assembly,
Dr Marina Confait, Principal Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs,
Rear Admiral Armando Paolo Simi, Force Commander of EU NAVFOR Somalia,
Commander Francesco Fagnani, Commanding Officer of ITS Antonio Marceglia
US Naval Forces Africa,
My dear colleague, Dominique Mas, the French Ambassador,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am extremely pleased to welcome you all this evening and to co-host with Rear Admiral Armando Simi, this reception in honour of the participation of the European Naval Force in the Cutlass Express 19.2 exercise.
The European Union has over the years developed an "Integrated Approach" through our foreign policy and instruments to contribute to the security and the development in this region. This is not done in isolation but in a coordinated way and in close cooperation with all of our partners to achieve the best possible results. This is the European way of addressing world challenges.
The participation of EU NAVFOR Atlanta in the Cutlass Express 19.2 exercise
This is also the reason why the EUNAVFOR together with Eastern and Southern African nations and the Combined Maritime Force (CMF) have successfully participated in the Cutlass Express edition 19.2 sponsored by our colleagues and friends from the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). This clearly demonstrates our solid partnership, our efficient inter-operability and our joint commitment to peace and stability in this part of the world.
I can repeat tonight that the European Union remains strongly committed to the global resolve to maintain freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean.
Let me here commend the work and dedication of the crew of ITS Marceglia and through them to the whole EU NAVFOR Atalanta Operation. Since its launch, this mission, in co-operation with other counter-piracy partners, has considerably reduced piracy off the Somali coast.
The EUNAVFOR presence and its involvement in supporting Seychelles and other countries in the region, to improve their maritime capability, is yet another testimony to this strong commitment.
The role of Seychelles
I would also like to extend a special thanks and gratitude to the Government of Seychelles for offering hospitality and all the necessary support and services for EU NAVFOR flagships that are frequently refuelling and relaxing here at Port Victoria.
But the support given by Seychelles to this endeavour in the fight against piracy is not stopping there; Mme Minister, let me underline our deep appreciation for the critical role played by the Seychelles judiciary in ensuring the legal finish for the prosecution and trial of convicted pirates.
Serious maritime threats
However today, despite all our joint efforts, we continue facing other serious challenges at sea: illegal fishing; trafficking of weapons, trafficking of drugs and even trafficking of people.
Henceforth, we need to look into further improvements of our interventions and to reinforce the support of the international community on preventive measures to fight piracy and maritime crimes in a more lasting manner.
Supporting a regional approach
Some key prerequisites in terms of information sharing and coordination of actions at sea, have recently been achieved with the signature of two regional maritime agreements by 7 countries in the region.
In addition the two Regional Centres, established in Seychelles and Madagascar through our EU funded program "Mase" for maritime security , took actively part into the Cutlass Express 19.2 exercise and the IORIS network developed under our CRIMARIO programme was used as the primary communication platform.
Allow me tonight to share my deep satisfaction for these achievements, which are surely the result of years of EU and international support, but also of the devotion of all officials and seamen of the respective Navies.
Finally, I would also like to commend the organisation of the recent regional maritime exercise MARPOL, in Madagascar under the aegis of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC). Its main objective was to improve readiness to tackle yet another threat, maritime pollution. And I can say that it was a successful exercise which saw the participation of the five islands states and of the EUNAVFOR.
The upcoming IOC Ministerial Meeting in early December under the Chairmanship of Seychelles will be a perfect opportunity to reinforce and to further operationalise this regional partnership.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Maritime security is critical as seaborne trade is the lifeblood of both regional and global trade in an open economy.
Our joint efforts and partnerships will help deterring transnational maritime threats and provide a secured environment, conducive to the good governance in and around the Indian Ocean.
When maritime trade freely sails across the seas, economic development and opportunities for prosperity are possible.
Rest assured that the European Union and its international partners will continue supporting Seychelles and the countries of the region with the clear objective to reinforce the long-term stability of Africa and the peace in the Indian Ocean.
Thank you and enjoy this evening (and I can now lift my glass to our common challenging objectives!).