|FM highlights key role of Foreign Ministry in countering terrorism|
|Tuesday, 18 November 2008 12:19|
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama has emphasized the important role that the Foreign Ministry has been playing in gaining the support and confidence of the international community in combating terrorism in the country. The Minister made this observation when speaking during the Committee Stage of the Debate on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Parliament today (18 November 2008).
Minister Bogollagama elaborating further, stated that Sri Lanka has enhanced its bilateral relations with countries in the neighbourhood, including India and China, as well as forging new relationships in regional and multilateral fora such as the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Economic and Technical Cooperation (BIMSTEC), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), in addition to its active role in the Commonwealth, the Non-Aligned Movement and within the United Nations system. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has had the opportunity of addressing the entire international community on two occasions, namely at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. He would be undertaking a State visit to Turkey shortly.
Sri Lanka’s active engagement internationally has yielded positive results in terms of enhanced development assistance, such as the massive infrastructure development aid from China and a 25% increase in overseas development assistance from Japan. The Foreign Ministry has played a pivotal role in the diplomatic initiatives in obtaining the concessionary funding from friendly countries for the mega development projects that have been undertaken by the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration.
The Foreign Minister emphasized that Sri Lanka maintains the closest relationship with her neighbour, India, which has been cemented by the frequent high level political interaction between the two countries, including President Rajapaksa’s meetings with the Indian leaders, as well as his own dialogue with the Indian leadership.
Minister Bogollagama, referring to the defunct Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) with the LTTE, said that the parity of status accorded to the LTTE virtually undermined Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Even as the government took the bold decision to annul the CFA on 03rd January 2008, he had maintained the position at the Cabinet that there was a need to accelerate the process towards a political solution. Accordingly, on 23rd January, the interim proposals submitted by Prof. Tissa Vitarana, Chairman of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) was accepted by President Mahinda Rajapaksa for immediate implementation. The results of this decision have been manifested in the restoration of democracy and civil administration in the Eastern Province. Today, the administration of the Eastern Province is in the hands of the people, headed by a Chief Minister, from the Tamil community who was a child soldier.
The Minister reiterated the Government position that the engagement of the military is to counter terrorism and the President’s repeated assertion to the international community that political issues can only be solved through political measures. The Government’s mandate is to fully implement the devolution of power to the provinces under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The President has invited the United National Party and the Tamil National Alliance to participate in the political process to find a lasting solution to the conflict.
Minister Bogollagama commended the service provided to expatriate Sri Lankans through the Consular Division of the Foreign Ministry and the Sri Lankan Missions abroad under the direct supervision of Deputy Minister Hussein A. Bhaila, in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Employment & Welfare and the Ministry of Labour. He also paid tribute to the Sri Lanka Foreign Service for its prominent role in countering anti-Sri Lanka propaganda abroad. The Minister stressed that the contribution of the Foreign Ministry cannot be quantified in terms of the monetary expenditure incurred, and the benefits that accrue to Sri Lanka have been manifested in the systematic manner in which the Government has been able to successfully address contentious issues confronting the country.
The Foreign Minister thanked the Foreign Secretary, all officers of the Foreign Service, Heads of Mission and staff of Sri Lankan Missions abroad for their support and cooperation in the successful implementation of the foreign policy objectives of the Government of Sri Lanka.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
18 November 2008