The Spanish Minister for Defense, Ms. Carme Chacon Piqueras, has pledged to step up collaborations with the Seychelles government in the fight against piracy after participating in a meeting with the High Level Committee on Piracy (HLCP) earlier today.
During a brief working visit, Minister Chacon Piqueras and her delegation of high level government officials, met with the Seychelles Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean-Paul Adam, the Minister for Home Affairs, Mr. Joel Morgan, four private ship-owners, and other members of the HLCP, and agreed to establish a Bilateral Commission aimed at discussing the possibility of ship-owners operating in the region carrying high-caliber weapons onboard.
This commission, which will include military and government officials, as well as private-sector representatives, will review the carrying of such weapons as a preventative measure, as part of a wider, multifaceted formula to combat piracy.
Speaking at a press conference held at State House following a meeting with Seychelles President Michel, the Spanish Minister and Minister Adam said that reviewing such measures is a vital response to the increased sophistication of Somali pirates and key to protecting economic activity, which would also minimize the adverse effects of the cost of piracy on commodity prices.
After thanking the government of Seychelles for all the support extended to the Spanish Military who operate in the region as part of both NATO forces and EU NAVFOR Operation ATALANTA, Minister Chacon Piqueras said: “The presence of ship-owners in our meeting today shows the constant relationship we have had over two years with companies, in collaboration with the government of Seychelles, which has been very fruitful. … I am especially glad of the outcome of this visit.”
The Minister for Foreign Affairs echoed the Spanish Minister’s sentiments and thanked the Spanish government for the support they have shown to Seychelles and for taking the time to make this visit which follows on from President Michel’s working visit to Spain last year.
“This visit shows the solidarity that Spain and Seychelles show towards each other in security matters. Seychelles and Spain are both maritime nations who have long traditions in terms of their shipping, and it is natural that we support each other, particularly when faced with threats such as piracy,” said Minister Adam.
“Seychelles is proud to also host a number of Spanish vessels as part of our fisheries cooperation with the European Union, which contributes significantly to the development of our economy. Our discussions were also very focused on ensuring adequate security to ensure that our two economies can continue to benefit from this excellent arrangement.”
Minister Adam also spoke of the global context of piracy and the importance of keeping it on the global agenda. He added that they had discussed all dimensions of piracy including the legal aspects and issues of the incarceration of convicted pirates.
The two ministers also announced other areas of cooperation, which extend to police and military training, greater participation of Seychelles in global piracy related forums, increased military collaborations in the region, and also the establishment of a permanent Telemedicine Unit in Seychelles.
The Spanish Minister was accompanied by the Ambassador of Spain to Seychelles, the Chief of Staff of Defense, the Secretary General of Defense, the Director of the Cabinet of the Minister of Defense, the Advisor in the Cabinet of the Minister of Defense, and the Secretary General of the Sea, among other officials and a media troupe of 26 journalists and crew.