“WE HAVE A CHERISHED ALLIANCE WITH INDIA”
India Empire’s Editor Sayantan Chakravarty met up with H.E. Mrs Harisoa Lalatiana Accouche, High Commissioner of Seychelles who provided responses to our questions.
Since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Seychelles in March 2015—the first by an Indian PM in 34 years—would you say that bilateral relations have gone to the next level?
Seychelles and India have enjoyed a long-standing, deep-rooted friendship, greatly attributed to their strategic geographical location in the Indian Ocean region and shared cultural and historical narratives. This cherished alliance has progressively been fortified through continual dialogues and mutual exchanges resulting in a harmonious and vibrant friendship and a dynamic programme of cooperation in numerous spheres and sectors.
The visit by Honorable Prime Minister Modi indeed opened a fresh era in this bilateral relationship. This significant event underscored a renewed dedication towards enhancing the bilateral relations between the two nations, magnifying the mutual commitment to collaborate on shared regional challenges while persistently seeking to enrich economic, strategic, and cultural bonds.
In the aftermath of this visit, and in the ensuing years, numerous legal instruments and cooperation agreements have been formalized across diverse fields. These foundational steps have catalyzed the implementation of various initiatives, thereby invigorating the relationship and propelling it to an elevated standing.
India’s role as one of Seychelles’ vital development assistance providers marked by its commitment to granting and extending credit for different development projects, is an eloquent testament to this progressive partnership. Seychelles profoundly acknowledges the generous and comprehensive assistance offered by India in various manifestations - from grants for the Magistrate Court Appeal, funding for High Impact Community development projects, to infrastructure development financing through Line of Credit, and collaboration in domains of EEZ surveillance, hydrography and maritime security, not to mention various material donations, capacity building initiatives, technical assistance, and training courses facilitated through ITEC, among others.
Concurrently, Seychelles continually endeavours to present itself as an attractive destination for Indian investors, keeping in view the plethora of untapped potential in sectors such as tourism, fisheries, and renewable energy within Seychelles.
In addition to fostering economic and strategic ties, the reciprocal emphasis placed by Seychelles and India on cultural and people-to-people exchanges is also worth mentioning. The frequency of high-level visits by officials from both countries, such as the then President of Seychelles to India in 2018, the Indian Vice-President’s visits to Seychelles in the same year and again in 2020, and the visit by External Affairs Minister Hon. Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in November 2020, further underscored this commitment.
In conclusion, Prime Minister Modi’s visit can be aptly described as a remarkable catalyst to these bilateral relations, with expectations set on a continued trajectory of growth. Both sides eagerly anticipate the 10th Session of the Joint Commission to convene in India, an event postponed due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic. This forthcoming occasion presents yet another milestone opportunity to assess the current state of bilateral cooperation and to identify and explore additional prospects for propelling the bilateral relations to an even higher peak.
Furthermore, the relationship between Seychelles and India has been further consolidated through development assistance offered by India to Seychelles. India has consistently demonstrated its support in critical situations such as with the covid-19 pandemic as India assistance in the provision of vaccine and other materials allowed Seychelles to open its skies in March 2021 and re-launched tourism, our bread and butter.
That particular high-level visit was followed by one from the then President Danny Faure to attend the founding conference of the International Solar Alliance. That must have further boosted bilateral ties. Your comments…
Indeed, as pointed out earlier, the visit by Honorable Prime Minister Modi to Seychelles in 2015 was succeeded by numerous high-level interactions, one of which was the visit of then President Danny Faure to attend the founding conference of the International Solar Alliance. This exchange opened avenues for discussion with Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the prospects of enhancing bilateral cooperation in the renewable energy sector. This discourse saw fruition in the form of allocation of grants for renewable energy initiatives, including a one-megawatt solar plant on one of the islands, and the extension of technical assistance and training.
This juncture also witnessed the conclusion of a defense cooperation agreement, encompassing collaboration in maritime security. The visit of President Faure to India hence reflected the joint commitment of both sides to foster the already commendable bilateral ties between Seychelles and India, with a shared focus on strategic areas of cooperation. This relationship has evolved to a new phase and is projected to flourish in the coming years, conferring mutual benefits and contributing to the overall regional progress.