Without India, can’t move forward on blue economy: Seychelles

New Delhi, Aug 27 (IANS) Seychelles said on Thursday that it wants to work together with India on developing its blue economy and that it was keen to invite Indian participation in a 396,000 sq km extended continental shelf area that it shares with Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.

Visiting Seychelles President James Alix Michel said: “Without India we cannot move forward on blue economy; it will remain a concept. We have to work together and see how to develop it to areas that can benefit both our countries.”

Speaking at the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) 19th Sapru House Lecture here, Michel said that blue economy is important to India and to his Indian Ocean archipelago nation and mooted regular discussions so that “both countries can think together and work together and develop better concepts”.

Michel, who had held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, termed his visit “very successful” and said it shows the “excellent ties and friendship between India and Seychelles, which will keep growing and developing”.

Michel had got along two of his ministers, Joel Morgan, who holds portfolios of foreign affairs and transport; and Jean-Paul Adam, who holds finance, trade and the Blue Economy, to also speak on the subject “Maritime Security for Blue Economy” at the lecture.

Adam said that India, with its 1,300 islands, is also a maritime and a blue economy nation. He said that Seychelles and Mauritius together co-manage the 36,000 square km continental shelf area, which is as large as Germany.

“We will approach Indian developers at the right time” to conduct hydrography in the area and to use Indian technical knowledge to develop the sea bed which is known to be rich in marine life and hydrocarbons, he said.

On the bilateral agreement on Assumption Island, on which Modi said India has begun the process of infrastructure work, Adam said India is developing the remote island, one of the 115 islands that constitute Seychelles.

He clarified that Seychelles has not leased the island to India and that it was a joint project for collaboration to “survey and have maritime presence and safeguard that part of our ocean”.

Stressing that Seychelles has an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.3 million sq km, Adam said Seychelles “appreciates Indian vessels in our port” which he described as “part of our security strategy”.

Adam said that Seychelles’ bilateral engagement with India was “beyond that with any other country”. He said India’s providing a radar system to Seychelles would allow them “to share information on real time basis and take informed decisions on how to better protect our economic interests”.

Morgan, in answer to a query, said that Seychelles is close friends with both India and China.

“Seychelles recognizes that the Indian Ocean belongs to countries of the region but that does not preclude the participation or presence of other counties that can bring positive benefits to the region,” he said.

Referring to peace and security of the Indian Ocean region, he said that besides Chinese ships, other countries too had a presence in the area and mentioned the European Union bloc, which he said, had naval forces there.

“In terms of development of the Indian Ocean, we need an ocean that is safe, secure and free of politics in order to allow development of our economies. And also recognize the right of other counties to be present in the region and work with us, with everyone in the region in terms of economic prosperity and development.”

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