Dear citizens of the Republic of Seychelles,
Today is Europe Day, an important celebration for the European Union and its 446 millions of citizens; 9 May 1950 is a milestone in the history of the European Union construction in the aftermath of WW2 when cooperation and solidarity were so essential to rebuild life and humanity. It is a day to remember what the European Union is about, its achievements and the values it stands for.
This year, Europe Day celebration is taking place in an uncharacteristic context. The coronavirus outbreak has profoundly changed all our plans. We all share the pain of those currently ill or those who lost some of their relatives. We do pay tribute to all our “frontliners”, especially the medical staff. In Seychelles too, thanks to their efforts, the archipelago did not experience any death and the country was able to stop virus transmission, thanks to the right safety decisions and medical treatment. It is a challenging time for all of us. In Africa, challenge might be higher than elsewhere in the world. In this context, the message of “solidarity” brought every year during our Europe Day celebration is more relevant than ever. It is a word we believe in and that we promote in all our actions, including here in Seychelles; today, with the COVID pandemic rife in the world, solidarity takes on a whole new dimension and even becomes vital for the survival of vulnerable people.
To win the race against COVID-19 and to mitigate the terrible impacts that it is having on our life, our economy, our societies, on 9 May, we want to reaffirm our strong attachment to multilateralism, to solidarity and to cooperation. This is why the European Commission, joining forces with France and a number of other international partners, has organized, a few days ago, a virtual pledging conference to mobilize financial resources in order to kick start the global cooperation to develop and deploy diagnostics, treatments and a vaccine which are affordable and accessible to all. The conference has been a real success and has resulted in a total pledge of 7.4 billion euros from donors around the world.
But this is only the part of the EU response to this pandemic and our action will not stop there; the EU and Member States will continue to participate as Team Europe in the global response to the pandemic and provide support to partner countries, including the Republic of Seychelles, in addressing the sanitary and socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic. In that context, re-establishing trade flows and reviving the tourism sector, which has been particularly hard hit in the world and in Seychelles, are of the utmost importance. This will be a priority for us as Seychelles and the EU have built solid ties in the areas of trade and tourism.
And because most of the crisis situations are linked together, we will not divert ourselves from our fight against climate change and the preservation of biodiversity, which remain key challenges of our times in particular for island states like Seychelles. More than ever, in this difficult time, together with the Government of Seychelles, we have to uphold our fundamental values: democracy, the rule of law, human dignity and the universality of human rights. All together, we stand for gender equality and freedom and against violence on women and minors as well. Solidarity and unity will foster our fight for a more secure world. These are the areas where we will continue to work for in Seychelles in collaboration with the government, the civil society and the private sector.
9 May is the opportunity to say that we will not stop believing that a better world is possible, and that the EU and Seychelles can each contribute to this safer and better world; it is the day to reaffirm, with confidence and hope, that we will never stop working for that purpose.