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EU says agreement with Seychelles reflects new opportunities and global challenges

Victoria, Seychelles | June 3, 2016, Friday @ 14:58 in National » DIPLOMACY | By: Patsy Athanase and Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 1859
EU says agreement with Seychelles reflects new opportunities and global challenges

the EU-Seychelles political dialogue held on Thursday. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency)

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(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles and the European Union (EU) have a long-standing relationship that reflects new opportunities and global challenges and goes beyond the traditional "development aid" logic, says a representative.

An EU delegation held discussions in Seychelles on Thursday on current cooperation and future collaborations.

The talks in Victoria, the island nation’s capital, addressed issues such as local elections, trade, climate change, maritime security, Sustainable Development Goals, the rule of law and good governance.

“Our partnership is based on the shared principles of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights, as well as fostering international peace and security,” the head of the EU delegation, Marjaana Sall, said.

Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, benefits from the EU under the partnership agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and the European Union.

The agreement signed in 2000 in Cotonou, Bénin is for a 20-year period -- March 2000 to February 2020. It focuses on development, economic and trade cooperation and the political dimension.

To date, Seychelles has received $44 million in development aid to the sectors of environment, economic reform programmes and education.

For the period 2014-2020, the island nation has received an allocation of $7.8 million to implement the interim Economic Partnership Agreement, which provides duty and quota-free access to the EU market for exports.

Sall said the EU, which has very stringent monitoring mechanisms in place to ensure spending is done in a transparent way, was so far satisfied with how the money is being used.

“We are accountable to EU taxpayers as to how their money is used in African countries under the Cotonou Partnership Agreement. We have monitored, and we have not found any problems in Seychelles,” said Sall.

Following the recent ruling of the election petition lodged by the opposition candidate, Wavel Ramkalawan, following the December presidential polls in the island nation, Sall said Seychelles has made progress in the area of good governance.

“We have agreed on the importance of free, fair and credible elections. We feel Seychelles has taken steps to improve its democratic process, and it (the verdict) shows the growing maturity of the democratic process of Seychelles.”

Thursday’s talks also focused on Seychelles and EU partnership, as this one ends in four years.

“With the present agreement ending in 2020, it is an opportune time to analyse this partnership and see how Seychelles could deepen its relationships and enhance collaboration,” said Seychelles’ Minister of Foreign Affairs Joel Morgan.

Both Seychelles and the EU said they were satisfied with the ‘constructive discussions’ and reiterated their commitment to have regular meetings.

The first EU-Seychelles political dialogue took place in Victoria in 2012, and the next one is scheduled for June 2017.

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Tags: European Union, EU delegation, political dialogue

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