GIS – 13 September 2018: The Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) has to be given a new impetus with particular emphasis on restructuring the Commission in view of aligning it with the global strategy and ensuring a consolidated regional cooperation for the benefit of the IOC Member States.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, and Chairperson of the IOC, Mr Seetanah Lutchmeenaraidoo, made this statement yesterday at the opening of the 33rd Council of Ministers Meeting of the IOC currently being held at Le Maritim Hotel, Balaclava. On this occasion, a Double Taxation Agreement was also signed between Mauritius and the Union of Comoros.
Several eminent personalities including the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity, and Environment and Sustainable Development, Mr Etienne Sinatambou, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and the Francophonie, in charge of Comorians abroad of the Union of Comoros, Mr. Mohamed El Amine Souef, the President of the Regional Council of Réunion, Mr Didier Robert, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Madagascar, Mr Eloi Maxime Dovo and the Vice-President of the Republic of Seychelles, Mr Vincent Meriton, were present at the opening ceremony.
In his keynote address, Minister Lutchmeenaraidoo, defined his priorities and vision for the IOC which he said should be geared towards creating a synergy and strengthening bilateral ties among the Member States. This synergy, he underlined, is primordial especially at a time when the world is confronted with numerous challenges such as maritime security, food security, climate change and illegal fishing. He further pointed out that considering the vulnerability of the IOC Member States, they all have to join forces in making the regional organisation more resilient.
He emphasised that a roadmap will be instrumental for the restructuring of the Commission and for charting out the strategies as well as ambitions of the organisation. He also dwelt on the need to incorporate transparency in the financing of the IOC while adding that the European Union has been very supportive towards the Commission. Speaking of other possible reforms, the Minister recommended that the period of presidency as the Chairperson of the IOC could be changed from one year to a two-year mandate.
In addition to commending the role of the African Union, Mr Lutchmeenaraidoo called on the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States to come together and work collaboratively towards achieving common goals. On this score, he cautioned that capacity-building has to be reinforced among all Member States for a promising future in the context of the Post-Cotonou Agreement and urged them to combine efforts for the progress of the IOC.
For his part, the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity, and Environment and Sustainable Development, Mr Etienne Sinatambou, highlighted the objectives of the meeting which are to, inter alia, discuss and review progress on the status of implementation of various projects and activities of the IOC. He emphasised that it is high time for the IOC to work towards an inclusive sustainable development and harness the potentials of the maritime zones that the Member States possess.
The two-day meeting is focusing on four thematic areas of intervention namely political and diplomatic cooperation, economic and trade cooperation, environmental sustainability and regional cultural cooperation.