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The President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was on a three-day official visit to Seychelles from June 27-29, officially opened various Sri Lankan offices in Seychelles on Saturday.

These include the office of the high commissioner of Sri Lanka, a branch of the Bank of Ceylon and Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation all situated in the Capital City building in Victoria.

President Rajapaksa also opened the Nawaloka Medical Centre in the Le Chantier Mall on Francis Rachel Street and the Mihin Lanka airline office at the Ebrahim Building also on the same street.

The opening of the high commission of Sri Lanka, which was presided over by both President James Michel and President Rajapaksa, has been described as a demonstration of the strong personal commitment of the two leaders towards further strengthening the cordial relationships between the two island nations that have emerged in recent times.

It was also announced during the ceremony that Seychelles also will very soon open its own diplomatic mission in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo.

Also present at the opening were the Vice-President of Seychelles Danny Faure; the Sri Lankan high commissioner to Seychelles Rajatha Piyatissa; Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Patrick Herminie; ministers from both countries; leader of the opposition in the National Assembly David Pierre; President of the Court of Appeal Francis MacGregor; members of the National Assembly; high officials of the Seychelles government and other dignitaries.

In his speech for the occasion, the Minister for External Affairs of Sri Lanka, Gamini Peiris, said the two Indian Ocean island states share common values and it is the vision of the Sri Lankan President Mr Rajapaksa to take a fresh look at priorities – to look at the realities of the modern world and the strength of the relationships with countries of the region which means a constant assessment and revaluation of priorities.  

And in accordance with these priorities Mr Peiris said President Rajapaksa has decided to accord the highest possible importance between the two countries – and that is the opening of a diplomatic mission in Seychelles

He also said what has been accomplished between the two countries is a unique record of achievement while making reference to President Michel’s visit to Sri Lanka in August 2012 and the reciprocated visit of President Rajapaksa to Seychelles which has resulted in the establishment of the Sri Lankan diplomatic mission in Seychelles.

The Sri Lankan Minister for External Affairs also mentioned the establishment of the Seychelles resident mission in Colombo.

Mr Peiris went on to cite various areas of cooperation that are thriving between Seychelles and Sri Lanka like in boatbuilding, education, agriculture and health and other forms of people to people contact.

Minister Meriton said the day was an auspicious occasion for Sri Lanka and Seychelles while he warmly welcomed President Rajapaksa on his second visit to Seychelles.
He said it was with great honour that he extends on behalf of President Michel, the government and the people of Seychelles, heartfelt appreciation to the government and people of Sri Lanka for this strong expression of confidence in the shared future of our two nations.

“The opening of the Sri Lankan high commission in Seychelles signifies another milestone in the almost 26 years of diplomatic relations between our two countries. It is a reflection of the desire of Sri Lanka and Seychelles to forge closer ties. It demonstrates through the exchange visits of President Rajapaksa and President Michel what can be achieved when two determined island nations are willing to work together,” said the designated minister.

He added that Sri Lanka will today join eight other resident diplomatic missions in Seychelles. It is its first in the Indian Ocean and sixth in Africa.  He said it is a clear testament of Sri Lanka’s commitment to engage with the wider international community. This engagement is critical to achieving global understanding, peace and sustainable development.

“On the other hand, this expansion of the diplomatic network based in Seychelles shows our readiness and commitment to engage with other countries in finding lasting solutions to challenges facing our globalised world. We believe that we can make a difference. This is why we rely on the support of Sri Lanka to secure a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2017/18.

The minister also said the opening of the high commission is also a sign of the increased engagement between the two countries, a sign of the deep friendship between our peoples and a common vision to promote our core values and interests.

Minister Meriton also made mention of the impending opening of the Seychelles high commission in Colombo where he said in diplomacy, nothing can replace people-to-people contacts and that it is with this principle in mind that Seychelles will also be opening its resident mission in Colombo by the end of this year.

Minister Meriton also referred to the remarkable strides that have been made in the fields of trade and investment, defence, renewable energy, education and training, legal affairs, health, fisheries and sports and culture between the two island nations.

He also mentioned the arrival of Mihin Lanka to Seychelles which he described as a mutually-beneficial development; the Bank of Ceylon and the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation which he said will bring us a step closer in realising our vision of making Seychelles Sri Lanka’s gateway to Africa and for Sri Lanka to be a gateway for Seychelles in Asia.

In the sports field the minister said the fruit of discussions will soon be seen in the training of sports administrators, the exchange of teams, delegations and sports specialists in general and particularly within the framework of the IOIG.

He also mentioned the medical sector, with the official opening of the Nawaloka Medical Centre which he said reflects the emphasis put in ensuring that whatever is done on the diplomatic front makes a positive difference in the lives of our people.

“New avenues have also been opened for collaboration in mariculture and the training of our seafarers. Agriculture, food security and maritime security are also areas with great potential that we are planning to exploit. When it comes to our maritime partnership, there is still room for further engagement. We can take on a leadership role in mobilising the creative energies of the international community in widening the frontiers of development to embrace the vast and limitless potentials of the blue economy,” said Minister Meriton.

Minister Meriton also said that with the high commission, we can deepen our cultural, political and economic relations with Sri Lanka, a country we consider as a major partner of Seychelles.

“Our presidents have paved the way for a bright future in our relationship between Sri Lanka and Seychelles. It is up to us to seize the opportunities of the moment and together rise to the challenges that await us,” concluded the minister.

President Rajapaksa then went on to preside over the official openings of the Bank of Ceylon, the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, Nawaloka Medical Centre and Mihin Lanka offices. At Mihin Lanka he was given a miniature of the plane as a gift from the airline’s chairman and chief executive, Nishantha Ranatunga.

Centred on the age-old concept ‘health is indispensable wealth’ and evolving as the first fully-fledged private hospital in 1985, today the Nawaloka Hospital in Sri Lanka is a 400-bed facility where technology and health care meet. It prides itself as the most advanced team of medical and practitioners in Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan traditional lamp, which in the Sri Lankan culture means bringing light to darkness, was lit at all opening ceremonies.

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