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The growing geo-political importance of the Indian Ocean to be discussed at Savannah Council of World Affairs in the USA

The growing geo-political importance of the Indian Ocean to be discussed at Savannah Council of World Affairs in the USA ( Former Seychelles President, Sir James R. Mancham, has accepted an invitation of the Savannah Council of World Affairs to address the Council on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 on the subject, “The growing geo-political importance of the Indian Ocean today."

Mr. Mancham will be in Savannah, Georgia, USA, to participate in the Savannah Ocean Exchange Summit as a recently-appointed member of its Board of Governors.

Founded by a former banker of high US national repute, Mr. Howard Morrison, who is now Chairperson Emeritus of the Exchange, and Ms. Cort Atkinson, a specialist in improving business performance through organizational design, who is now Chief Executive Officer of the organization, the Exchange seeks solution to inspiring action with respect to problems confronting the sea, the oceans, and the coast.

The Exchange is a non-profit organization, which brings together every year representatives from industry, research, education, government, and conservation to identify an annual theme addressing pressing ocean issues.

The Board of Directors consists of global thought-leaders of diverse discipline including ocean experts, major corporations, representations from major universities, and the US federal government.

In fact, the inaugural Board of Governors included such eminent achievers like – Mr. John Bruton, a former Irish Prime Minister who presided over the successful Irish-EU presidency in 1996 and helped finalized the Stability and Growth Pact, which governs the management of the single European currency, the euro; the President of the Shipbuilding Association of Canada, retired Vice Admiral Peter Cairn, who is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Institute of Ocean Technology; Mr. Christopher J. Connor, Deputy CEO of Wallenius Wilhemsen Logistics (WWL), a leading independent provider of global factory-to-dealer transport solutions for automotive, agricultural, and construction equipment industries (in 2009, WWL transported more than 2.7 million vehicles); Mr. Curtis Foltz, the Executive Director of the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA), a 1,000-person-strong State Port Authority that owns and operates strategic gateways serving the US Southeast; Mrs. Irene Reynolds-Schier, a keen geographer from Switzerland who is Trustee of the Sapelo Foundation, which has a long history and affinity for water-related issues; Vice-Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr., former Under-Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administration of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Associations (his distinguished career in the US Navy saw him being Commander of the US Third Fleet); Mr. Jeff Seabright, a Vice President of Coca-Cola Company; Mr. John Day, a Director of the great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority of Australia; Mr. Joe Lombardo, President of Gulf Stream Aerospace Corporation and Executive Vice President of the General Dynamics; Ms. Susan Leal, Senior Fellow, Advanced Leadership Initiative of Havard University; and Mr. Stratham Leopold, the well-known independent film producer.

Following discussions with the Seychelles Minister for Environment and Energy, Professor Rolph Payet, on Friday, August 31, 2012, former President Mancham said that taking into account the fact that Seychelles is a maritime nation, which has proved itself a leader in conservation (according to a New Index in the USA – Seychelles is 4th out of 171 coastal regions with the healthiest seas), taking into account its recent landmark treaty with Mauritius on the Extended Continental Shelf, Seychelles significant contribution towards combating and solving the piracy issue, and the growing energy prospects in the western Indian Ocean, he feels that all possible areas of collaboration between the government of the Republic of Seychelles and the Savannah Ocean Exchange should be explored for mutual benefits.

Mr. Mancham said that when in Savannah, he will also vigorously pursue his crusade for the US to re-open a fully-fledged embassy in Port Victoria with a resident Ambassador, as is the case with the UK, France, India, Russia, China, and Cuba. “It is not fair for the US superpower to play the game of gun boat diplomacy, vis-a-vis the Seychelles, and deny us the respectability, which we deserve as a fully sovereign nation,” he said, reiterating once more his favorite line, “No country is small if it is surrounded by the sea.”

It is to be noted that in May this year, former President Mancham raised the diplomatic issue when participating in a program titled “Global Hotspots: Insiders Briefing” that was held at Hoovers Institute of War, Revolution, and Peace of Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, USA, following which he flew to Washington, DC, to discuss his points with Mr. Johnnie Carson, US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs at the State Department. The former President said that he has received encouraging messages from many leading US citizens who are supportive of his crusade, which also carries the backing of President James A. Michel and his Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean-Paul Adam.

PHOTO: Former Seychelles President, Sir James R. Mancham,


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