Ireland, Belgium post new ambassadors to Seychelles, opening door for climate action, education
Climate action and education are areas of cooperation that two newly accredited ambassadors to Seychelles will focus on during their tenure.
Presenting their credentials to Seychelles’ president, Wavel Ramkalawan, on Tuesday at State House were the ambassador of Ireland to Seychelles, Mary O’Neill, and her counterpart from Belgium, Peter Maddens.
Calling on the president first, O’Neill outlined that “there are a number of areas that we will be focusing on, but primarily around climate action.”
“This is an area that is really important for Seychelles and Ireland. It is an area that we work closely together on and it is an area where we provide support both at the international level but also around specific interventions here in Seychelles. We also discussed how Ireland and Seychelles work collaboratively at the UN and in other forums on issues of climate action and climate adaptation. We specifically talked about working closely together as we approach COP26 later on in November,” said O’Neill.
She explained that over the last 10 to 15 years, climate action has been an area of cooperation between Ireland and Small Island Development States (SIDS).
“We really appreciate the leadership Seychelles takes in the region and amongst SIDS in championing for particular aspects of climate change that affects Small Island Development States in a particular way – the level of vulnerability, and the existential threat that climate change presents for these nations. This is an area of partnership and cooperation that we will hope to strengthen and work together on in the next few years,” she said.
O’Neill, the second ambassador of Ireland to Seychelles, also told the press that other points discussed with the president were “the great job that Seychelles has done in terms of the vaccination campaign and that we are hoping that the Irish tourism industry, which is now open again, will see an increased number of visitors to Seychelles.”
Ireland and Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, established Diplomatic relations in October 1999. O’Neill will be based in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
Also accreditated on Tuesday was the new ambassador for Belgium, Peter Maddens. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY
On his part, Maddens, the Belgian ambassador said, “We talked about how important the education sector is and what I’d like to look at, and I have no idea where it stands right now, is what we can do together in terms of cooperating in education.”
“If there is any Seychellois who wants to come to Belgium to study, if I can put them in touch with certain institutions of higher learning, then I am more happy to do that. But I want to look at what is available and what is possible, and then come back to discuss with the authorities here about what we can do,” said Maddens.
Other points of discussion were the European Union’s political dialogue, the challenges to the tourism sector of Seychelles, and how the country is rebounding from the COVID era.
“We also talked about foreign policies, touching on the relations with the continent among other topics,” he continued.
On the relationship between Seychelles and Belgium established in 1976, Maddens said that it is at the same time satisfying and disappointing.
“It is satisfying because the relations are so normal that there are hardly any contentions between us. At the same time it is incredibly challenging because we have no problems and as diplomats, we have very few things to negotiate and to talk about, but again this is the kind of relationship you want. You want a normal relationship, a relationship between friends or two brothers that lives in harmonious family. That is exactly how I feel our relationship is right now,” said Maddens.
Maddens will be based in Nairobi, Kenya.