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Strengthen trust among peoples this New Year – President

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We look towards the future at the dawn of this New Year with renewed determination, firm commitment and many positive expectations. It is a great achievement that freedom and peace is now established in our motherland to enable such aspirations.

The major challenge before us is to raise the position of our country in the world. We recognize this year as one where many giant steps towards development will be taken based on the five-fold sectors of progress. There will no doubt be a considerable increase in the sacrifices needed to achieve this, similar to those made to gain victory in the last five years.

Our aim is to recover with speed all that was lost to Sri Lankan society in more than three decades. Our wish is to make use of every opportunity to ensure prosperity to Sri Lankan society by providing the equitable sharing of economic benefits.

National unity is key to both uniting and developing the motherland. Thus, the time has come to rise above all differences. Only then could all conspiracies to deny coexistence, and those against the people and the nation, be defeated.

With great determination and patience, we have built mutual understanding and trust among the people about the nation's development. Strengthening this should be among our wishes for the New Year. In doing so, I trust you will gain further strength to make this New Year bring further victory to the nation.

I wish you a Happy New Year !
 

President`s Christmas Message

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I wish a Happy Christmas to all Sri Lankans and citizens of the world who celebrate the birth of Christ at this Christmas!

The purpose of celebrating Christmas is to enshrine the message of peace and love in one's heart. It is especially a time to spread the message of love and compassion towards the poor and peace among all peoples.

Our great commitment in the recent past to promote solidarity among communities, is in keeping with the teaching of Christ to 'love thy neighbour'. Our efforts to free our people from poverty have been appreciated by Christians and those of all other faiths, alike.

Christ taught that, whosoever shall receive a child in my name receiveth me. Christian tradition holds that the three kings came to worship the new born child guided by the star light that marked his birth. Similarly, we must bring the joyous message of Christmas closer to the hearts of our children. Thus, we will be able to come closer to the peace and love of Christ through Christmas.

I wish you all a Happy Christmas filled with peace and joy.
 

Indian Minister of External Affairs to visit Sri Lanka

Minister of External Affairs of the Republic of India, S. M. Krishna, will commence a three day visit to Sri Lanka on 25 November 2010.

This visit, which is the first high level visit from India in the second term of President Mahinda Rajapaksa follows up on the important visit to India from 8-11 June 2010 by the President, which has laid a strong foundation for the future development of India-Sri Lanka relations. The Joint Statement issued during President Rajapaksa’s visit embodies the vision of the leaders of Sri Lanka and of India for harnessing the enormous potential available for consolidating and strengthening the bilateral partnership through building on shared values; leveraging common strategic concerns and interests; enhancing connectivity and economic engagement and reinforcing institutional frameworks for a comprehensive partnership in all areas of bilateral endeavour.

A key event that will take place during the visit is the convening of the Seventh Session of the India – Sri Lanka Joint Commission which is co-chaired by Minister S.M. Krishna on behalf of India and Minister G.L. Peiris on behalf of Sri Lanka. This will provide the two countries an opportunity to review the growing ties between Sri Lanka and India; monitor implementation of bilateral understandings and further enhance the bilateral relations. Several bilateral agreements will also be signed during the visit.

The External Affairs Minister of India would make use of his visit to Sri Lanka to inaugurate the Consulate General Offices of India in Jaffna and in Hambantota.

The other key elements of Minister Krishna’s programme include calls on President Mahinda Rajapaksa and on Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne.

Ministry of External Affairs
Colombo

24th November 2010

 

United in peace, lets build a great nation - President

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Our first task in our rise to be among the great nations of the world, is to ensure lasting national unity and sustainable, permanent peace in our motherland, stated President Mahinda Rajapaksa after the swearing in for his second term of office today (19 Nov) at the Presidential Secretariat.

Our policy is one of non-alignment, he said adding, ‘we do not have enemy states or such groups or blocs. During the last era, we worked with many nations in agreement and friendship for national security. We now step into the development era. We extend our hand of friendship to those who assist us in this endeavour’.

We have the inherited wisdom to tolerate all opinion and take mature decisions. We have a tradition of understanding our problems and conflicts and finding solutions for them, he further stated.

‘We are not a miniature of a developed country. We are Sri Lanka. Our motherland is Sri Lanka’.

Read more: United in peace, lets build a great nation - President

 

Deepavali Celebrations in Canada

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The Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa, Canada and the Consul General’s Office in Toronto together with the Sri Lankan community celebrated the Deepavali festival on a grand scale on 7th November, 2010 at the Korean Cultural Centre in Toronto.  Religious dignitaries of the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian clergy participated in the event.  Five Members from the Federal Parliament of Canada including Members of the Municipal Councils and over 300 Sri Lankans participated in the celebrations.

A significant feature this year was the involvement of the Tamil community in organizing and coordinating the event.  At the entrance to the hall, the members of the youth group “Sri Lankans Without Border” assisted in welcoming the guests according to the Hindu tradition. A member of the Tamil community Mr. Ignatius Selliah was the Master of Ceremonies who conducted the entire event in all three languages. The celebration began with a special pooja to invoke blessings which was conducted by Siva Shri Thiyagarajah Kurukkal, the Chief Hindu Priest of the Sri Durka Hindu Temple.

The Deepavali Message of President Mahinda Rajapaksa was read in Tamil and English.  Mr. Ajantha Gnanamuttu and Mr. Sivam Vinayagamoorthi, two members from the Tamil community spoke on the significance of Deepavali, which was followed by an address by the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in Canada Mrs. Chitranganee Wagiswara.  The High Commissioner spoke of the prevailing peace in Sri Lanka which provided a conducive environment for the Tamil population to celebrate Deepavali with all the religious observances and cultural aspects associated with the event.  While touching briefly on the current developments in Sri Lanka, especially in the North and East, she requested all the Sri Lankans living in Canada to unite and work together for continued peace and prosperity of their motherland.  The official ceremony was followed by cultural performances depicting religious and Tamil traditions performed by Tamil and Sinhala artists.

The official programme ended with the distribution of door prizes.  The first prize was a London/Colombo/London air ticket donated by Sri Lankan Airlines and handed over by Mr. Lalith Wickremasinghe, Manager, Sri Lankan Airlines and the second and third prizes donated by the Canada-Sri Lanka Business Council were handed over to the recipients by Mr. Kula Sellathurai, President, and, Mr. Ganeshan Sugumar, Vice President of the Canada-Sri Lanka Business Council, respectively.

The official and cultural segment of the celebration was followed by a reception hosted by the High Commission and the Consul General’s office with traditional food and sweets associated with Deepavali.

 Sri Lanka High Commission

Ottawa, Canada

10/11/2010

Photos by Mr. Nimal Egoda Gedara

 

Minister G L Peiris Refutes LTTE Propaganda in London

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Delivering the Keynote Address of the first Dialogue between the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) in London and the Ministry of External Affairs of Sri Lanka, the External Affairs Minister Professor G.L Peiris said that it is regrettable that groups close to the LTTE, knowing very well that they cannot unleash violence the way they did with impunity in the past, have now taken on an initiative of a different complexion, which has assumed the character of an economic onslaught against Sri Lanka. Their purpose now is to dissuade investors and tourists from coming to Sri Lanka and cut off access to western markets for Sri Lankan products.

Referring to a query from The Telegraph yesterday seeking the views of the Government of Sri Lanka on a number of photographs the suppliers of which had claimed to be taken in the North of Sri Lanka during the final phases of the conflict which ended in last May, the Minister said that the group which is close to the LTTE and had supplied the photographs to the newspapers themselves had admitted that they were not in a position to confirm the authenticity, place and the veracity of the material supplied by them. Citing this as an example to explain the nature of the misinformation campaign against Sri Lanka, the Minister added that when several photographs allegedly depicting war crimes were first published by Channel 4, the Government clearly established, by reference to technical considerations, that they were not genuine but fake. However, the same set of photographs continues to appear in a well planned, systematically orchestrated pattern, from time to time. He recalled that one week before the European Commission was scheduled to take a decision on the extension of GSP+ trade concessions to Sri Lanka, they again surfaced.

Read more: Minister G L Peiris Refutes LTTE Propaganda in London

   

Sri Lanka pursues nation-wide agenda of renewal -– President at the UNGA

‘International Humanitarian Law should reflect reality of non-state actors in conflicts’

Mr. President

Excellencies

I have great pleasure in congratulating Your Excellency Joseph Deiss, on your assumption of the Chair of the sixty fifth Session of the General Assembly.

I also take this opportunity to extend our appreciation to the President of the sixty fourth Session, His Excellency Dr. Ali Abdussalam Treki, for his effective stewardship of the General Assembly.

Mr. President, Excellencies,

That the United Nations is now in its sixty fifth year serves to underline the durability of this organisation. It is an important mechanism in ensuring co-operation between States and a forum for discussion between sovereign nations. We must never under-estimate the importance of this organisation based as it is, on the principle of equal treatment of countries big and small.

It is in this spirit that I address you at a crucial juncture in the history of my own country. In two months, I will be assuming office for my second term.

My mandate will be very different from my last. For my second term as President, my promise to my people, is to deliver sustainable peace and prosperity to all and ensure that terrorism will not be able to raise its ugly head again.

In 2005, I was elected by my people on a promise to rid my country of the menace of terrorism. I say that Sri Lanka is now at peace, peace that was only a dream a few years ago.

Over the past year, much has been reported and much has been said regarding my country’s liberation from terrorism. However, far less has been said of the suffering we had to undergo and the true nature of the enemy we have overcome.

The rapidly forgotten truth is that we had to face one of the most brutal, highly organised, well funded and effective terrorist organisations, that could even spread its tentacles to other countries.

Many of the atrocities of terrorism that the West has come to experience in recent times, the people of Sri Lanka were themselves the victims of, for nearly 30 years, losing almost one hundred thousand lives, among them being a President of Sri Lanka, a visionary leader of India and scores of intellectuals and politicians.

The LTTE was an organisation so brutal, that even those it claimed to represent, the Tamil community of Sri Lanka, were as much victims of its terror as the rest of the population of our country.

Read more: Sri Lanka pursues nation-wide agenda of renewal -– President at the UNGA

   

Media Release

The arrival of the vessel MV Sun Sea with 490 illegal migrants on board has drawn much focus in Canada and especially in the Canadian media. This human smuggling operation with links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is an issue which needs to be seriously addressed.

In order to justify the organized crime, certain elements are now making wild allegations against the Government of Sri Lanka without any basis and with mala-fide intensions to project the impression that people are fleeing Sri Lanka as the conditions prevailing in the country are deplorable and that Tamils are being persecuted etc.

The adverse critics of the Government of Sri Lanka may note that there is complete peace in Sri Lanka since the three decades long conflict ended with the defeat of the secessionist terrorist outfit in May 2009. Approximately 300,000 people who were held as a human shield by the LTTE and rescued by the government were accommodated and provided with required facilities, with the assistance of the international community. Over 80% of these Internally Displaced People (IDPs) have been resettled and the remaining 30,000 IDPs live in the welfare villages and their early resettlement have been ensured. They have the freedom to move in and out of the welfare villages. The Government of Sri Lanka is addressing issues pertaining to the resettlement process such as clearing of 1.5 million land mines planted by the LTTE, livelihood for the IDPs and infrastructure development in the areas destroyed due to the conflict, etc.

Read more: Media Release

   

Sri Lanka and Canada on alert over a ship suspected to be carrying illegal immigrants from Sri Lanka

There have been reports in the media on ‘M/V Sun Sea’ which is reportedly heading towards the East Coast of Canada carrying over 200 illegal immigrants from Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa and the relevant Security Agencies in Colombo have been in close contact with the relevant authorities in Canada on this issue.

The High Commissioner in Ottawa met with Mr. Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism of Canada and discussed mutual concerns on illegal immigration and human smuggling from Sri Lanka which are linked to LTTE operations outside the country.

Read more: Sri Lanka and Canada on alert over a ship suspected to be carrying illegal immigrants from Sri Lanka

   

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