I take modest pride in the fact that Sri Lanka is one of the economies in Asia where impressive successes have been recorded during these turbulent times, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said at the 16th Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Tehran yesterday.
The full text of the President’s speech: “At the outset, I express deepest sympathies for the tragic loss of life and destruction caused by the earthquakes that occurred a few weeks ago in North Western Iran. I wish the people of Iran a speedy recovery from this unfortunate natural disaster.
“I am pleased to be in this magnificent city again, this time with the brethren of the Non-Aligned Movement. I take this opportunity to thank the government and the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the meticulous organisation of this event, and gracious hospitality extended to me and my delegation.
“While warmly welcoming President Ahmadinejad as the new Chair of NAM, I wish to acknowledge the extensive contribution made by Iran to the Movement over the years. I am confident that under his able leadership the work of NAM will continue to flourish. I also offer my heartfelt appreciation to His Excellency Mohamed Morsy, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, for their impressive initiatives to the NAM in its capacity as Chair from 2009 to 2012. “Sri Lanka is pleased to welcome the Republic of Fiji and the Republic of Azerbaijan as the newest Members into the NAM family. The admission of these two Members into our fold, brings added strength and diversity to us, and clearly establishes the relevance of NAM in the global arena. We strongly advocate solidarity among NAM countries, especially now.
“We are living through challenging times and the theme for this Summit, “Lasting Peace through Joint Global Governance” is particularly pertinent. It is through joint global action that we will be able to address many of these challenges.
“While the world is still grappling with one of the worst financial crises in memory, we continue to be confronted by an array of difficult issues; ranging from global warming, food crisis, demands of energy access, terrorism, widespread poverty, cyber security and threats to the security of states.
“The situation in the Middle East also causes serious concern. Our deliberations here must focus on developing practical policy options, through the multilateral framework, and pragmatic approaches to deal with these complex issues.
“Many of us attended the Rio+20 Summit in June this year, with the hope of securing policy outcomes, seeking to address the sheer range of environmental and developmental concerns. While the results may have been less than expected, it has provided a solid foundation to develop pragmatic policy approaches, in dealing with these pressing challenges.
“We look forward to continuing discussions in this regard at multilateral fora, in order to manage in a sustainable manner the depleting resources for our future generations.
“Our collective action must be to achieve better standards of living, healthcare, education, food and energy, security and jobs for the youth. If we are to avoid a calamity, we must develop a new model of development, appropriate to the needs of our people. In my own country, we have achieved much, in meeting the stipulated targets of the Millennium Development Goals despite a fragile world economy, the constraints imposed by a debilitating three decade terrorist conflict, now happily behind us.
“Since the end of the conflict, Sri Lanka’s economy has grown at over eight percent per annum while bringing inflation, unemployment and poverty levels down drastically. We have also ensured that the fruits of economic development are equitably distributed and reach the most vulnerable sectors of society. Through Gama Naguma and Divi Naguma programmes we have been addressing rural poverty alleviation and ensuring food security respectively. We are ready to share our experiences in this regard with other countries, as our achievements are for all.
“We are still burdened and seriously disadvantaged by the weight of the global crisis that originated in the financial hubs of the world. In many cases, financial markets and economies operated irresponsibly, bringing calamity to millions of lives, and disrupting the social fabric putting at risk, the future of the young. Unemployment and debt remain unsustainably high casting doubts on a speedy recovery. Unfortunately, developing countries still continue to get policy prescriptions from these very countries where economies and financial markets have been mismanaged. It is of the greatest importance to ensure that the proposed solutions do not impose unjustifiable burdens on developing nations.
“It is indeed reassuring to note that the impact of the global financial crisis has been minimal in many of our countries in the South due to lessons from previous crises and the sagacity with which we managed our economies. I take modest pride in the fact that Sri Lanka is one of the economies in Asia where impressive successes have been recorded during these turbulent times.
“This leads to the pressing need to re-structure the global financial architecture. Global financial institutions must reflect the changes in the international arena today. In the face of numerous challenges, not only are many developing countries managing their economies successfully, but global financial power has also been shifting from the industrialized North to the power houses of the South. It is time that this shift begins to be reflected in the global structures.
“The security of nations is another imperative that needs to be addressed. While, the United Nations has successfully helped to avoid a global war in the last 66 years, regional conflicts and strife continue to mar the international landscape. The world continues to be confronted by the threat of globalised terrorism closely associated with organised crime, as well as non-traditional threats by transnational criminal cartels that impede the socio-economic progress of mankind. Sri Lanka continues to support multilateral efforts to enhance peace and security, and eliminate all forms of terrorism.
“Sri Lanka was fortunate to have ended the terrorist challenge three years ago, largely through its own efforts. I strongly believe that ending a threat of this nature and overcoming the challenges in its aftermath requires a home-grown, people based approach, as in the case of my country.
“Similarly, the international community must support countries facing the threat of terrorism. There can be no double standards or the selective application of standards and principles, if we are to eliminate this menace. We also uphold the principle that sovereignty must be respected and equal treatment accorded to all. Non-interference in the internal affairs of states, as clearly reflected in the UN Charter and the principles of NAM, must remain an abiding principle to be followed in spirit and letter.
“Finally, after over six decades, it is regretted that the Palestinian question remains unresolved. There is no moral or legal justification for not creating a State for the Palestinians as envisaged by the United Nations in 1948. We reiterate the realisation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and as a rightful member of the World Body without delay.
“In conclusion, Sri Lanka stands committed to support you in your endeavours ahead, to further the principles and objectives of the Movement under your stewardship.
“May the blessing of the Noble Triple Gem bless all of you.”
Courtesy: Daily News