|Independence Day Message of Hon. Minster of Foreign Affairs|
|Wednesday, 04 February 2009 15:26|
We celebrate the 61st anniversary of Independence today with a great sense of optimism. As the light comes through the clouds of uncertainty, a new hope beckons, and it is this hope which the people of this country have desired so intensely to realize, a sustainable peace. Sixty one years after regaining independence, we are indeed at a momentous juncture of our history.
The core values of democracy and pluralism embedded in our society have for almost three decades been challenged by the horrendous human cruelty unleashed by terrorism. Many innocent lives have been lost to senseless violence. I salute the valiant members of our security forces who have laid their lives for the noble cause of protecting this blessed land from the curse of terror and hatred thus contributing to open before us a new era of peace and harmony.
Following the successes in humanitarian operations to liberate the people who had continued to live in the clutches of terrorism, Sri Lanka has seen vast strides being made in the resolution of the conflict. The democratic space created within the political mainstream has provided the opportunity even for former militants to enter it at regional and national levels. The evolving post conflict period provides for wider political discourse for those in the democratic path to arrive at a workable, practical mechanism for the establishment of a sustainable political solution through the All Party Representative Committee process.
Notwithstanding much turbulence in the world economy in the recent past, the resilience demonstrated by the Sri Lankan economy is remarkable. We have managed to achieve impressive growth rates while fighting terrorism and we can look forward to a bright future with confidence. The Government is resolved to empower the people to reap the benefits of economic growth in an equitable and fair manner and in particular in the North and the East.
Having its tenets of foreign policy shaped by non - alignment principles, Sri Lanka continues to play a dynamic role in the field of international diplomacy. Our role in international affairs with an ethos of moderation and of peaceful co-existence continuous to be the foundation of our engagement with the international community. In as much as our foreign policy stands to protect our sovereignty independence and territorial integrity, we continue to play an important role in the United Nations. Our role in a variety of multilateral fora including the Commonwealth, BIMSTEC, IORARC, ACD, ASEAN Regional Forum and the Group of 77 as well as our significant contributions to the Law of the Sea, Indian Ocean Peace Zone, and Israel Practices Committee, bear testimony to Sri Lankan’s commitment to international diplomacy. Multilateral obligations have not diminished Sri Lankans involvement in regional fora. Our pro-active role in the region is amply demonstrated by our participation in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) which we presently Chair. In facing her present challenges, Sri Lanka has never been alone. I take this opportunity to express the appreciation of the Government of Sri Lanka to our friends in the international community for the assistance extended to us in our endeavours to counter terrorism and achieve economic prosperity.
I also call all Sri Lankans where ever they may be, whether in Sri Lanka or overseas, to join hands in building bridges of amity hope and peace over the rivers of hatred, enmity and misperception. As we inch towards a new chapter in our history, the Sri Lankan Diaspora must play a proactive role in the country’s economic advancement and social development.
Let us draw inspiration from our forefathers who fought so zealously to regain our Independence 61 years ago. Let us resolve to protect our vibrant democracy, with its multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi cultural character intact, treasured and nurtured. Let us join hands to reinvigorate the age old values of tolerance, trust and mutual respect to build this country a better place for ourselves and future generations.
Rohitha Bogollagama M.P.
Minster of Foreign Affairs