Dear people of Seychelles, Dear residents of Seychelles, Dear visitors to our country, A new year, a new chapter in our history. A new page that we all have to write together, guided by the experience of the preceding years, motivated by our tenacity to do more and better, inspired by our resilience and the values that unite us as a nation.
A small nation that is young and vulnerable. But we are a nation that is strong because of our patriotism, our solidarity, our resoluteness and courage to face challenges with enthusiasm and open mind. With intelligence and without fear. A small nation that has ambitions. It dares to realize its dreams in spite of the constraints it faces. A small nation that has reached an envious stage in its development and prosperity, always striving for an even better future for its people.
The start of this new year is a fitting occasion to look back at our past and draw the lessons that will enable us to chart our future. It has not always been easy. We encountered difficulties and obstacles. There were times when we made some errors. But we have learned our lessons. All this is behind us. We now have to look at the future.
History tells us that we are a resilient people. A nation forged by the flames of struggle and tenacity. This has made us strong and bold. Always ready to face the unknown. Always ready to take our own destiny and future in our own hands. No one else will do it for us. 2014 is the start of a new future. A future that we all help to build daily, in the spirit of sharing and solidarity. In a spirit of national unity and patriotism. In the spirit of the New Seychelles that unceasingly requires our love, our responsibility and our hard work in order to lead it toward the better horizon.
In all decisions we take, in all we do, the future of our homeland is more important than all else. The future of the New Seychelles comes first.
Small islands conjure up images of paradise on earth. They are small; they are beautiful! But small is also vulnerable. We are vulnerable to a host of threats ranging from climate change, to the plundering of the resources of our Blue Economy, piracy, trans-border organized crime. The challenges are many. But we, the inhabitants of one of the most beautiful small island states, have not allowed these to deter us from fulfilling our vision. It is a vision of a better world -- one of hope, justice, peace and opportunities. It is a vision constructed on our principles. A vision for the New Seychelles. A vision which has propelled us to the forefront of the fight for the cause of small island developing states.
For many years Seychelles has championed the cause of small island states. Our leadership role has long been recognised. And this year, our efforts and vision, along with those of others, have been vindicated. 2014 has been designated by the United Nations as the "International Year of Small Island Developing States".
The theme finds singular resonance with us. That is why we have adopted it as our national theme, while situating it in our own context. International Year of Small Island Developing States: Seychelles – A Determined Island Nation is our theme of the year 2014.
We are a truly determined island state. We are conscious of our weaknesses, our constraints … But we are a resilient small nation. A small nation that has proved its resolve and resilience on countless occasions in the face of vicissitudes. We have faced them, we have overcome them against all odds, and we have emerged stronger and bolder.
The New Seychelles is a reality. It is a modern and progressive edifice that continues to inspire us. We continue to strive for it. The New Seychelles is a small island state that is determined, courageous. Its eyes cast on the future, with plenty of hope and optimism. Our achievements are well documented and recognized worldwide. This makes us proud and happy. In our endeavour to bring more prosperity, greater wellbeing and a better standard of living to our people, we should never neglect the values that bind us together as a Creole nation. Our moral and spiritual values. The values and traditions we have inherited from our forebears. Values that define us as a nation but which, sadly enough, are in danger of being eroded by the social scourges which continue to afflict us.
It is for this reason that during this International Year of Small Island Developing States, we, as a determined island nation, have to continue to put emphasis on our diverse programs of education, re-education, cultural appreciation, rehabilitation, apprenticeship, etc. These programs should never lose their relevance, their raison d’être. Sustainable development cannot materialize without an ethos of hard work. It cannot happen without national unity and social harmony. Sustainable development thrives on respect -- for oneself and for one’s neighbor -- on responsibility, determination and hard work.
Let us in this Year of Small Island Developing States show to the whole world our mettle and determination. And let us cultivate and reinforce the values that define our small island nation.
In the face of all the challenges, opportunities and choices that the year 2014 will bring, let us make the resolution to live in peace, in harmony and in solidarity. Let us continue to remain steadfast in the building of our New Seychelles.
It gives me great pleasure in wishing all Seychellois, including our compatriots overseas, all residents and all visitors to our country, a Prosperous and Happy New Year 2014!
May God continue to bless our beautiful small country and protect us. Thank you.