President of Palau in Seychelles as National Day guest of honour
The President of Palau Tommy Esang Remengesau (right) accompanied by the Seychelles President James Michel after he had arrived in the Indian Ocean island nation on Sunday afternoon. (Mervyn Marie Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles is seeking to strengthen ties with yet another island nation following the arrival on Sunday of the President of Palau to the Indian Ocean archipelago of 115 islands.
The President of the Western Pacific Ocean island Tommy Esang Remengesau, who is on a three-day official visit to Seychelles landed at the Seychelles International Airport at Pointe Larue on the eastern coast of the main island of Mahé after 1.30pm local time.
The Seychelles President James Michel was at the airport to welcome Remengesau and his four-member delegation as they disembarked an Air Seychelles flight.
The welcome party included the Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Herminie, cabinet ministers, members of the judiciary and of the national assembly.
The first-ever visit of a Palauan head of state to the Seychelles was broadcast live on the national television, the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC).
In an interview with an SBC journalist minutes before the arrival of Remengesau, the Seychelles Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Maurice Loustau Lalanne explained that although Seychelles and Palau formally established diplomatic ties this year, the two heads of states have enjoyed close relations for a number of years.
Michel and Remengesau were the ones who called for the setting up of the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) in January 2005 during the second International Meeting of the Small Island Developing States held in the neighbouring Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.
GLISPA is an open and voluntary platform for all islands and their supporters to work together to build resilient and sustainable island communities through innovative partnerships.
Both Palau and Seychelles are also members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).
In a press statement issued Friday, State House said the two island nations “are staunch defenders” of the cause of Small Island Developing States on the world stage adding that they both play a leadership role “in promoting and investing in inter-island partnership as a means to provide solutions to the needs and special circumstances of islands.”
“In this crucial year where a climate deal will be negotiated in Paris and which will see the launch of the Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, President Remengesau's visit is opportune and will serve as a strong reminder of the special ties that island nations share and of their importance in the global tapestry of nations,” reads the statement.
Remengesau, who has a tight schedule ahead over the coming three days, will be the guest of honour at the National Day celebrations.
He will be present at the traditional National Day parade, which will take place at Stad Linite, a stadium situated at Roche Caiman on the outskirts of the nation’s capital of Victoria this afternoon and was also expected to visit the National Show which is one of the main activities organised for the occasion.
2015 marks the first year that National Day is being celebrated on June 29 which is a public holiday. This is the day the 115-island archipelago of Seychelles gained independence from the British in 1976.
National Day was previously observed on June 18, but this date has from 2015 been marked as Constitution Day to celebrate the adoption of the current constitution in 1993.
Remengesau will also be meeting with President Michel at State House where there will also be the signing of some agreements between the two sides among which is a visa waiver as well as general cooperation agreement which will allow bilateral cooperation between the two sides in several areas.
Tourism, waste management, restoration of eroded coastlines due to climate change as well as the blue economy are some of the areas of envisioned cooperation mentioned by Loustau Lalanne.
The Palauan President will leave Seychelles on Wednesday July 1.
Palau consists of over 200 islands out of which only eight are permanently inhabited. The western Pacific islands have a much smaller population size of only around 21,000 people when compared to Seychelles’ population of around 90,000.
Palau which is close to Southeast Asia has a rather mixed population of Malay, Melanesian, Filipino, and Polynesian ancestry. It is believed that its original settlers as early as 2500 BC were from Indonesia.
The Palau islands remained under Spanish ownership for many years before Spain sold them to Germany in 1899. The islands were also occupied by Japan during the World War 1 and the US during the World War 2.
Palau became independent in 1994.