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Address by H.E. Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka at the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly 25 September 2018, New York

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May the Noble Triple Gem bless all of you !

Mr. President,

Mr. Secretary-General,

Distinguished Heads of State,

Distinguished Delegates,

Friends,

I am extremely pleased to participate in the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly representing Sri Lanka for the fourth consecutive occasion.  Sri Lanka, as a Member State of the United Nations, is fully committed to adhere to its Charter, Conventions and Agreements and their implementation.

As Head of State, I am pleased to note the progress that has been made by Sri Lanka and my government during the past three-and-a-half years. When I was elected by the people of Sri Lanka as Head of State in January 2015, the Executive Office that I hold today, had excessive powers, which were comparable to those of a king, or even an emperor.  I am pleased to state that I was able to relinquish these emperor-like excessive powers and transfer them to the Parliament of Sri Lanka, fulfilling the utmost duty of an elected leader.

During the past three-and-a-half years, democracy has been strengthened in my country.  In addition, human rights, freedom of the people and the media as well as the independence of the judiciary have been strengthened. Therefore, the Sri Lanka of today is not what it used to be three-and-a-half years ago. I can clearly state that the Sri Lanka of today is a society which is more inclusive and humane.

We, as Member States of the United Nations, must consider it as our duty and responsibility to comprehensively study and reflect upon the contemporary political developments, economic disparities, and common challenges faced by humanity.When speaking of international political developments and trends, we must in particular focus our attention on refugees that have become a global issue as there are a large number of refugees all over the world. Therefore, I believe that the efforts of the United Nations, its Member States and other organizations dealing with the issues related to refugees must be broader and more effective.

Sri Lanka is a country that follows moderate policies with regard to the exercise of its foreign policy. We are a senior member of the Non-Aligned Movement. The 1976 Non-Aligned Summit, which is considered one of the most successful, was held in Sri Lanka. Within the framework of non-alignment, we consider all nations of the world as friends. I am glad to note that Sri Lanka does not have adversaries in the contemporary world.

When discussing international political issues, we must especially mention the issue of the Palestinian people. I believe that the United Nations and the world powers should approach this issue with greater understanding and attention. Successive governments in Sri Lanka have supported the liberation struggle of the Palestinian people. I believe that the United Nations and all Member States should adopt a more humane approach when advocating for the rights of the Palestinian people, and taking into account the inhumane conditions they face, approach this issue in a broader manner.

We all know that poverty is one of the fundamental problems affecting the world. I am of the view that the United Nations can do more to address the issue of poverty. We know that today, hundreds of millions of people across the world suffer from hunger. Climate change, income disparities, and certain shortcomings of governments to fulfill obligations towards their citizens, are among the key causes of poverty. The negative effects of climate change on economies have further exacerbated this problem. Therefore, it is essential to assist and support countries which are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. I must mention that just as poverty plays a central role in many problems that plague the world, trafficking in weapons, illicit drugs and narcotics have also become grave threats to humanity.

In this context, I am pleased about the agreement reached under the auspices of the United Nations and the leadership of the US President Donald Trump on a ‘Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem’, yesterday. It is necessary that all countries do more towards combating illicit drugs with the assistance of the United Nations, as a matter of priority.

Within the framework of action of the United Nations, we must all work at national and international levels towards the implementation of the agreed outcomes of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, finalized under the guidance of the former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, for the benefit of humanity as well as other living beings, our streams and rivers, and planet Earth as a whole. I must state that Sri Lanka, as a UN Member State, gives utmost priority to these endeavours.

Speaking of internal matters of my beloved motherland, as I stated earlier, we have broadly strengthened democracy, human rights, fundamental rights and media freedom in the country. We must reflect on the situation of our country that prevailed forty years ago, and on the conflict that lasted for nearly thirty-years. It has been almost ten years since terrorism and armed conflict ended. During these ten years we have undertaken a broad range of reforms.  My government in particular, has implemented several important steps in the post-conflict context. We have implemented, and continue to implement many programmes aimed at fostering national harmony and reconciliation, and ensuring non-recurrence of conflict. As a country that has fulfilled and continues to fulfill our human rights obligations, we respectfully request the United Nations and all other countries to continue to assist us in our endeavours.

Sri Lanka's security forces defeated one of the most ruthless terrorist organizations in the world. As a result, Sri Lanka remains an undivided country that enjoys sustainable peace. Therefore, I must respectfully recall the yeoman service rendered by our security forces in defeating a dreaded terrorist organization, and I take this opportunity to thank our security forces for their great sacrifices in ushering peace and ensuring territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. At a time when almost ten years have passed since the end of the conflict, I call upon the international community to look at my country from a new perspective with new ideas. I call on you all to refresh your views on my noble motherland and assist us in our efforts towards achieving economic development, prosperity, and a secure future as a country at peace following a deadly conflict; as a country that is strengthening national reconciliation; as a country where national harmony prevails; as a country that has taken and continues to take every possible step to prevent recurrence of another conflict; and as a country that protects and upholds human rights.

I respectfully request you to allow us the opportunity to resolve our own issues. The independence of a country is of paramount importance. I seek your support in our efforts, including in strengthening democracy and enhancing human development, while respecting our sovereignty. The sacrifices we have made and the initiatives we have taken in this regard are important for us in resolving our issues. As an independent country, we do not require foreign interference or threats. As a strong nation, we request all of you to allow us space to resolve our problems and to progress as an independent country. In this context, once again I wish to reiterate our request for your assistance and support for us to resolve our own issues as Sri Lankans. I further request your support in the efforts of my government to alleviate fear and suspicion among the communities living in our beloved motherland, and to build greater harmony.

As I stated before, it is imperative to accord priority to address the issues of people in Sri Lanka and the world over who are poverty-stricken. We must find solutions to their problems, taking into consideration the ideas and thoughts of the younger generation.

Considering all of the above, I wish to finally reflect on what Lord Buddha stated in the Salla Sutta of the Samyuktha Nikaya in the Thripitaka where it is said that a man pierced by a dart suffers twice: firstly, the physical pain caused by the dart, and secondly the mental agony caused in recollecting the act. Similarly, the people of Sri Lanka have suffered both the physical pain of the prolonged conflict as well as the mental agony caused by the recollection of those unfortunate experiences. Therefore, it is no one else but the people of Sri Lanka who need to be relieved of this pain. In conclusion, I respectfully request all to extend support to my people and country to progress towards a  just, fair, equitable and humane society with economic prosperity, alleviating the pain that my people have endured.

Thank you. May the Noble Triple Gem bless you.

 

State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake represents Sri Lanka at the Bled Strategic Forum -2018 in Slovenia

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State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake visited Slovenia at the invitation of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia Karl Erjavec to attend the 13th Bled Strategic Forum, which was held on 10-11 September 2018. The theme of this year’s Forum was “Bridging the Divide”.

State Minister Senanayake was a panellist at the panel discussion on “Alone we fail: Working together for a sustainable future”. The panel consisted of high level speakers drawn from different countries representing governments, academia, civil society and the corporate sector.

Read more: State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake represents Sri Lanka at the Bled Strategic Forum -2018 in Slovenia

 

State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake Visits Ethiopia

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State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake undertook an official visit to Ethiopia from 13 to 17 September 2018.  Sri Lanka established formal diplomatic relations with Ethiopia in 1972, and the Sri Lankan resident Embassy in Addis Ababa was officially opened in February 2017, jointly by the Foreign Ministers of Sri Lanka and Ethiopia.

In honour of State Minister Senanayake, State Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia Hirut Zemene hosted a breakfast meeting attended by senior officials of the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The discussion centered on further consolidating bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and  Ethiopia and diversifying the areas of cooperation.  Exchange of business delegations between the two countries was also discussed and State Minister Senanayake extended an invitation to his Ethiopian counterpart  to lead a trade delegation to Sri Lanka.

State Minister Senanayake also  paid a courtesy call on Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome.

During the visit, State Minister Senanayake also visited the Headquarters of the African Union Commission and had a meeting with Dr. Smail Chergui, Commissioner for Peace and Security and the Acting Chairperson of the African Union Commission. The discussion focused on promoting  relations between the African and Asian continents.  Sri Lanka obtained accreditation status of the African Union in April 2014 as a Non-African State and Sri Lanka’s first resident Ambassador in Addis Ababa presented his credentials to the African Union Commission in December 2016 as Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka.

Further, the State Minister had meetings with senior officials of the Ethiopian Investment Commission and the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce, and exchanged information on trade and investment opportunities available in Sri Lanka and Ethiopia for promoting bilateral economic relations. State Minister Senanayake also visited the UNESCO Office in Addis Ababa.

Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union Commission Sumith Dassanayake accompanied the State Minister to the meetings.

 

Embassy of Sri Lanka

Addis Ababa

 

18 September 2018

Text in Sinhala (PDF)

Text in Tamil (PDF)

 

Minister Sagala Ratnayaka Undertakes Official Visit to the United States

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Minister of Youth Affairs, Project Management & Southern Development and Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister Sagala Ratnayaka undertook an official visit to Washington D.C. from September 12-13.

During the visit Minister Ratnayaka met with Chairman Mac Thornberry of the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee and Chairman Ted Yoho of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. The Minister also met with senior interlocutors of the National Security Council, the Department of State, the Department of Defence, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).

Minister Sagala Ratnayaka briefed them on current developments in Sri Lanka. They discussed the ongoing Sri Lanka–U.S. partnership and opportunities for further expanding bilateral cooperation within the framework of President Donald Trump’s Indo-Pacific Strategy. In this context, he welcomed the recent announcement by the U.S. of approximately $39 million in Foreign Military Financing for Sri Lanka, pending congressional approval.

Minister Ratnayaka also expressed Sri Lanka’s deep appreciation to the U.S. for the transfer of the high-endurance ex-U.S. Coast Guard cutter to the Sri Lanka Navy in August. The cutter will be the largest ship in the Sri Lankan naval fleet and will strengthen bilateral defence cooperation and enhance the capacity and the operational capability of the Sri Lankan Navy to more effectively secure the country’s maritime interests.

Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Embassy of Sri Lanka Priyanga Wickramasinghe and senior officials of the Embassy were associated with Minister Ratnayaka in the bilateral discussions.

Later, Minister Ratnayaka visited California where he attended the 2018 International Democrat Union (IDU) Meeting from September 16-18 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who is the Chairman of the Asia Pacific Democrat Union is an IDU Vice Chairman (ex-officio) since 2005.

 

Embassy of Sri Lanka

 

Washington D.C.

 

September 18, 2018

 

 

If we are to promote the Culture of Peace we must start with our youth and in our schools, Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe tells the UN

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Minister of Higher Education and Cultural Affairs of Sri Lanka, Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe told the UN General Assembly on 05 September 2018 that Education is vital in promoting a culture of peace. The Minister was speaking at the High Level Forum for a Culture of Peace convened by the President of the General Assembly.

In his remarks Minister Rajapakshe congratulated the President of the General Assembly for convening the timely Forum noting that the present discussion will highlight the importance of full and effective implementation of the forward looking objectives States have collectively subscribed to through substantive General Assembly Resolutions for the past 20 years.

“Sri Lanka asserts and re-affirms its commitment to building a culture of peace, and recognizes the need for continuous support to further strengthen this global commitment,” the Minister said, flagging vital issues such as multilateralism, empowerment of women, national ownership, education, media and technological advances in fostering a culture of peace.

Dr. Rajapakshe also delivered the keynote address on 04 September at a Summit of Parliamentarians on the theme “The role of parliaments in promoting a culture of peace and implementing the Sustainable Development Goals” at the United Nations Head quarters organized by the Inter Parliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics and co-hosted by the Missions of Sri Lanka and Benin.

The Minister pointed out that when thinking about the role of parliaments in implementing the SDGs, we have to realize that there can be no development without peace and no peace without development. It is vital, he said, to understand the interlinkages between the seventeen SDGs and underpinning by Goal 16 on building peaceful, just, and inclusive societies. Similarly, the minister stressed, there can be no sustainable peace without the Rule of Law. In this regard the essence of Sustainable Development Goal 16 to promote the Rule of Law is not only a self-evident objective but also catalytic to all the Goals, he added.

The Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Dr. Amrith Rohan Perera, in his welcome remarks at the Summit of Parliamentarians, noted that in Sri Lanka’s  own reconciliation and peacebuilding efforts and promoting a culture of peace, it has paid special emphasis on sensitizing the youth and children on the inherent values of a culture of peace, inculcating the value of empathy, inclusion, compassion and respecting the richness of diversity, which are critical ingredients of these efforts.  Education Sector reforms  with emphasis on a value based education is very much part of Sri Lanka’s ongoing reconciliation and peacebuilding efforts, the ambassador further said.

During his visit to New York Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe paid a courtesy call on the President of the General Assembly and also participated in a roundtable discussion on the Culture of Peace at the United Nations together with several parliamentarians from Benin, Madagascar, Nigeria, Spain and France among others.

 

Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations

New York

06 September 2018

 

 

State Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe leads a Private Sector Delegation to Kenya

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State Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe,  led a delegation of private sector companies to Kenya together with the Export Development Board (EDB) on 05 September 2018.

The State Minister addressed the Sri Lanka –Kenya Business Forum organized by the Sri Lanka High Commission in Nairobi where the private sector companies had the opportunity to meet prospective buyers, wholesalers and Kenyan entrepreneurs to further their businesses. The Kenya Chamber of Commerce and Industries(KNCCI) partnered    with the  High Commission  to brief  the  Sri Lanka  delegation on the  business environment  in Kenya and the opportunities available for Sri Lankan companies in the areas of  Fast Moving  Consumer  Goods (FMCGs) and on the Light Engineering Sector.

The State Minister emphasised on the strategic location of both countries and explained as to how  the two  countries  could mutually benefit  in doing  business.  He stated that  Kenya is the  gateway to East Africa  while  Sri Lanka  with its  growing  number of  free trade agreements  is the  gateway to Asia for Affrica.  Commenting that both  countries  are not  rivals   in business  but  countries   who  could grow together  complementing  and  learning from each other, the State Minister  said that this  is  only the  first  step  to many more visits  that  will strengthen  the relations  and  understanding  of the potential of growth of both countries. He thanked the  Chief  Executive Officer of the KNICC, Mr George  Kiondo  and his team for their efforts and  welcomed a buyer delegation  from Kenya  to Sri Lanka.

The State Minister also met Mr.Tobias Alando, Acting Chief Executive Officer of Kenya Manufactures Association(KMA). The Sri Lankan delegates   had fruitful B2B discussions  with Kenyan  businesses,  jointly  organised by  KMA and Mr Ruwan Fernando  of Mayleen  Group of Companies in Kenya.

State Minister Senasinghe also met with the Hon. Ababu Namwamba, EGH, Chief Administrative Secretary of Foreign Affairs to discuss  trade related outstanding issues.  Secretary Namwamba  assured that  Kenya  will be  hosting the 2nd Joint Trade Committee at the earliest. Appreciating  the assistance given by Kenya  in training long distance runners of Sri Lanka, the State Minister informed that Sri Lanka will assist Kenya in its efforts to improve  cricket.

The meetings were attended by High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in Kenya Sunil de Silva, Chairperson of the Export Development Board Indira Malwatte, Deputy High Commissioner Anzul Jhan and Director Market Development of EDB Anoma Premathilake . The private sector delegation comprised of representatives from Hettigoda Industries Ltd, Ceylon Biscuits Ltd, Orient Lanka Confectionary Ltd, Synex Holdings  and Synex International Pvt Ltd,  St Theresa Industries (Kenya) Ltd. and Ceylon Agro-Industries Limited.

 

High Commission of Sri Lanka

Nairobi

06 September 2018

 

   

IORA Member States finalise Terms of Reference (ToR) for the setting up of the Working Group on Maritime Safety and Security in Sri Lanka

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The Member States of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) met in Colombo on 4-5 September, 2018 and finalized the Terms of Reference (ToR) at an initial workshop held for the setting up of the Working Group on Maritime Safety and Security. At the 17th Council of Ministers held in Durban, South Africa in 2017, it was decided that Sri Lanka will coordinate the implementation of the IORA Action Plan 2017-2021 on Maritime Safety and Security that includes, amongst others, the establishment of the Working Group on Maritime Safety and Security.

The finalization of the ToR at the workshop marks an important milestone in the work of the IORA Maritime Safety and Security priority area. The Working Group provides a mechanism for engaging maritime officials and experts across Member States to promote regional cooperation by facilitating practical coordination amongst stakeholders.

The ToR outlines the objectives of the Working Group on taking forward the policy priorities set in the Maritime Safety and Security Area which include among others establishing a common understanding between IORA Members States of the collective Maritime Safety and Security risks, threats and opportunities in the Indian Ocean region; establishing an integrated policy approach on Maritime Safety and Security including through capability enhancement and capacity building; building a partnership within the framework of IORA for the strengthening of capacity and capability as well as institution building in the domain of Maritime Safety and Security; and enhancing Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) among IORA Member States.

The initial workshop was co-hosted by Sri Lanka and Australia, and was co-chaired by Sri Lanka,  Australia, India, Indonesia, Madagascar and South Africa.

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Colombo

 

07 September 2018

Text in Sinhala (PDF)

Text in Tamil (PDF)

   

Sri Lanka and Russia sign Agreement on Military Technical Cooperation and Working Group Terms of Reference document

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A four-member defence delegation headed by Mr. Kapila Waidyaratne, Secretary, Ministry of Defence visited Russia from 31 August-04 September 2018.

During the visit, the delegation attended the signing ceremonies of Working Group Terms of Reference document between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation of the Russian Federation (FSMTC) and the Agreement on Military Technical Cooperation between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Russian Federation on 03 September 2018 at the FSMTC and the Ministry of Defence of Russia respectively.

Both agreements were signed by Mr. Kapila Waidyaratne, Secretary, Ministry of Defence from Sri Lanka side while Mr. Mihail Petukhov, Deputy Director of FSMTC signed the Working Group Terms of Reference document and Colonel General Alexander Fomin, Deputy Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation signed the Agreement on Military Technical Cooperation from the Russian side.

Both signing ceremonies were also witnessed by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, Ambassador-designate of Sri Lanka to the Russian Federation and other officials from the Embassy of Sri Lanka in the Russian Federation.

 

Embassy of Sri Lanka

Russian Federation

04 September 2018

   

Sri Lanka pledges to support the implementation of the Lumbini Master Plan

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President Maithripala Sirisena concluded a two- day bilateral visit to Nepal on Sunday (02 September 2018), announcing Sri Lanka’s readiness to support the implementation of the Lumbini Master Plan, which would ensure the conservation of the historic site and enhance the facilities for pilgrims. The President was in Nepal to attend the 4th BIMSTEC Summit held on 30-31 August 2018.

He made this announcement during bilateral talks with Nepali President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, which was followed by an official banquet in honour of President Sirisena at Shital Nivas on Saturday, 01 September. Earlier in the day, the President and the delegation visited the sacred site in Lumbini, which is the birthplace of Prince Siddhartha Gautama. Over 50,000 Sri Lankans pay homage in Lumbini annually.

At their meeting, the two leaders reviewed with satisfaction the bilateral exchanges that have taken place over the past few years. The Nepali President expressed appreciation to Sri Lanka for being a true friend and assisting in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake that devastated the country, particularly in the reconstruction efforts at the Anand Kutir Temple and the Rato Machindranath Temple in Kathmandu. The leaders also discussed the possibility of marketing a ‘Buddhist Circuit’ as an initiative to boost tourism between the countries, and from outside the region.

President Sirisena congratulated the Government of Nepal on the successful conclusion of the 4th BIMSTEC Summit and as the BIMSTEC’s new Chair, sought the cooperation of Nepal in operationalising the ambitious Kathmandu Declaration.

During his meeting with the Prime Minister of Nepal K.P. Sharma Oli, the President emphasized the importance of strengthening economic relations between the two countries, and the Nepali Prime Minister said that the Sri Lanka-Nepal Joint Commission will be held early to carry forward the ideas discussed.

On Friday, 31 August, President Sirisena also inaugurated a ‘Trade, Tourism and Investment Dialogue’ organised by the Institute for Strategic and Socio-Economic Research of Nepal. Addressing the gathering, State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake requested that Sri Lankan companies in construction, education, IT, healthcare, apparel and hospitality be facilitated to invest in Nepal.

During the visit, two Memoranda of Understanding were exchanged between the two governments, the first between the Institute of Foreign Affairs of Nepal and the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute of Sri Lanka, and the second on Cooperation for Youth Development.

President Maithripala Sirisena also visited the Secretariat of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) headquartered in Kathmandu. He was received by the Secretary General of SAARC Amjad Hussain B. Sial and the Directors of SAARC. To mark his first visit to the SAARC Secretariat, the President planted a tree sapling in the premises. Addressing the officials at the SAARC Secretariat, President Sirisena said that Sri Lanka strongly supports the SAARC process as one of its founding members, and that his visit was intended to encourage the Secretary General and staff of the Secretariat for the important work they were doing.

He also visited the Anand Kutir Vihara and received a briefing on the progress of re-construction of the Vihara and also of the Rato Machindranath Temple. The President and his delegation also visited the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu and received blessings.

  

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Colombo

 

3 September 2018

Text in Sinhala (PDF)

Text in Tamil (PDF)

 

   

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