Speech for National Day 2014

Speech for National Day 2014


Mr William Fisher, First Assistant Secretary – Middle East and Africa Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Mr Sridhar Ayyalaraju, Deputy Chief of Protocol

Your Excellency, Mr Pedro Delgado, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps


Distinguished guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

I wish to extend a warm welcome to you all to the celebration of the 46th Anniversary of the Independence and the 22nd Anniversary of the Republic of Mauritius. On 12th March 1968, the Mauritian nation was born. It is the time to recall the hard struggle by our forefathers that led to independence and how they gathered under the leadership of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, the Father of the Nation, and many others.

Today, the country inherits a cultural mosaic which, though constituted from fragments of diverse origins is held together with understanding, mutual respect and tolerance. Mauritius is a vibrant democracy and is recognised internationally for its continuity of government, rule of law, political, social and economic stability.

On the economic front, Mauritius offers a transparent rule-based and cost effective business environment, integrated in a development model centred on achieving greater openness and geared towards global competitiveness. For the past decade, the country has undertaken bold and fundamental reforms to secure a world-class doing business environment and to open up economy to foreign capital, talents, expertise and ideas.

Today Mauritius is extensively investing in its development. A new airport has been constructed and Government is now also focusing on making Port-Louis the largest port of the Indian Ocean region. Renewable energy and marine biotechnology are also areas where we are interested.

Right from the start, it was important to put Mauritius on the world map and the diplomatic efforts undertaken helped in the process.

Relations between Mauritius and Australia go back a long way. Both countries established diplomatic relations on 17 November 1970 and the Mauritius High Commission was opened in Canberra on 4 July 1977. Australia opened its Mission in Mauritius in 1984. Our relations and cooperation, in fact, date back to much earlier as a result of our common membership to the Commonwealth and other International Organisations.

Mauritius and Australia have developed, over the years, a strong bilateral relationship built on the foundations of friendship and shared values, including democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. We look forward to continue to interact and work closely in international and regional fora, particularly the United Nations, the Commonwealth and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) on issues of common interest.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

Mauritius and Australia have worked closely in various fields including security, agriculture and education. Our interaction is based on a strong people-to-people links. We were delighted to receive the visit of two Parliamentary Secretaries from Australia last year.

Mauritius is proud to be one of the ten countries where an Australian Awards Alumni Ambassador has been appointed in 2013. Since 2010, more than 79 Mauritians have benefited from the Australian Awards which are prestigious scholarships and fellowships offered by the Australian Government. According to reliable sources, in 2013, around 2000 Mauritian students enrolled in the Australian education institutions.

The signing of two Memoranda of Understanding between the University of Mauritius and the Canberra Institute of Technology and the Open University of Mauritius with the Charles Sturt University have added another dimension to our relations. It will prepare and equip the future generation of the skills and expertise required to advance the interest of their country.

Distinguished Guests

The Indian Ocean region is undergoing profound transformation. In this perspective, we value Australia’s active engagement with countries in the region. We also welcome Australia’s commitment to engage more closely with Africa.

The Indian Ocean rim grouping was started some 17 years ago with seven members. Today, the Indian Ocean Rim Association comprises of 20 members. The Indian Ocean Rim has the potential to be one of the highest growth regions, bringing together some of the world’s most dynamic economies.

At a workshop, jointly organised by Singapore and the Indian Ocean Rim Association in Mauritius on 5 March 2014, Dr the Hon. Arvin Boolell, Minister of Foreign Affairs , Regional Integration and International Trade, emphasized the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean, bordered by three continents and connecting the Middle East, Africa and East Asia with Europe and the Americas. He further stated that about two-thirds of the petroleum products worldwide and more than half of the traffic of containers pass through the Indian Ocean.

This Indian Ocean region is also rich in minerals and other natural precious resources. It contains 40% of reserves of petroleum and world gas. Countries in the region of the Indian Ocean, with a population of over 2 billion people, represent some 10% of GDP and 11.6% of global trade.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

This year we celebrate the International Year of Small Island Developing States. In December 2012, the United Nations General Assembly decided to mobilise international interest on the uniqueness of Small Island Developing States and to build up momentum as we approach the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States scheduled to be held from 1st to 4th September 2014 in Apia, Samoa.

This is the first time that such a group of countries is given such recognition as to have an international year. We hope that SIDS will receive the strong support and commitment from the international community and our development partners for their sustainable development.

As a small island striving to become a High-Income Country, Mauritius is conscious of the many hurdles on the way due to its unique developmental challenges. Twenty-two years have already gone by since the “special case for environment and development” of SIDS was first acknowledged at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. Although some progress has been achieved, yet gaps still remain in achieving the full implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy for implementation. It is now opportune to meet our challenges through a more coherent, coordinated and collaborative approach to sustainable development.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

Mauritius, endowed with 2.3 million square kilometres of oceanic territory, is in need of strong partners to address matters as development of the knowledge base of our oceans, surveillance and enforcement with regards to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing, and technology transfer.

As an Island State, our social and economic development is inextricably linked to the sustainable management and use of coastal and marine resources whose contribution to the enhancement of our livelihood, well-being, and survival should be emphasized. From a SIDS perspective, the Ocean is an issue that clearly cuts across the economic, social and environmental dimensions of their sustainable development objectives. This is an area in which we intend seeking the expertise of Australia and explore the potential avenues of ocean development.

Distinguished Guests

Before concluding, I would like to seize this opportunity to thank the Australian Authorities, especially the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, for their valuable support and continued assistance. Since my appointment as High Commissioner of Mauritius to Australia, we have been working closely with a view of reinforcing and strengthening the friendly bilateral relations that exist between Australia and Mauritius.

Allow me now to address my fellow Mauritian nationals in a few words in French and Creole.

Notre force reside dans l’unite qui nous unit au-dela des frontieres. La communaute mauricienne est bien integree a celle d’Australie et mon message est:

Soyez toujours les ambassadeurs de l’Ile Maurice, n’oubliez jamais vos racines et preservez votre culture. Je sais que Maurice peut compter sur le soutien de la diaspora mauricienne pour contribuer au developpement continue de notre pays. Nou ti l’Ile Maurice li unique, li exceptionnel et li vibrant dans nou le Coeur.

Merci zot tou qui fine fer l’effort assister ca celebration malgre zot emploie du temps bien charge.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

I thank you for your attention.