Earth Summit boosts Sri Lanka’s image
Regional links with South America and Africa:
Promotion of Sri Lanka's diplomatic relations to a wider scale by
establishing diplomatic links with a large number of countries in the
African continent and the Latin American region is considered by
political analysts as another step forward of the President's vision on
President Mahinda Rajapaksa who addressed the Rio+20 Earth Summit
made a wide approach towards developing Sri Lanka's diplomatic relations
network in the South American region by delivering an important and
meaningful message to a large number of heads of state and
representatives of the world (nearly 193 countries) including the Latin
President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing the Rio+20 Earth
Summit in Brazil. Picture by Sudath Silva
Latin American and African countries which were under British, French
and other European colonial rule are today marching towards targets of
sustainable growth and development as sovereign states.
Apart from Brazil, Peru and Mexico developing countries achieving
successful growth targets are emerging in the South African region too.
These countries with a tropical climate and rich in agricultural and
mineral resources including gold lay claim to a multi-economic and
Another important job done concurrent to the Earth Summit was the
creation of a wide approach towards promoting diplomatic relations
within the South American region. As regards Sri Lanka, further
extension of the direct links established with the South African region
is an essential need.
The President put forward special views and suggestions on this
matter and emphasized the need to counter false propaganda carried out
by LTTE supporters and transform the African region into a Sri Lanka
friendly region. Sri Lanka is still at a primary stage when considering
the links established and investments made in this region by Japan,
China and India.
Extension of the foreign diplomatic operations conducted by Sri Lanka
with nearly 60 countries in the European continent and countries like
America, UK and Japan and those in the Asian region to South African and
Latin American region will bring immense economic and political benefits
to Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka has a longstanding diplomatic relationship with Cuba
extending back to 53 years and further extending and cementing of this
friendship will provide a valuable avenue for Sri Lanka to enter the
South American region. We can reap many benefits from this region
including Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Argentina.
It is the considered view of many that this tour will provide an
important opportunity for Sri Lanka to obtain co-operation in the
spheres of agriculture including the coconut industry, education and
sports and implement student exchange and scholarship programmes.
When you consider the economic transactions made with countries such
as Brazil, as well as, Cuba we could obtain many bilateral benefits from
countries in the South American region.
Relations with South African Region
President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prime Minister of Montenegro Lgor
Luksic held talks in Brazil to establish economic relations between Sri
Lanka and Montenegro. These talks portray the friendship and relations
built up by Sri Lanka.
The memorandums of understanding and agreements reached with Chile
and Cuba enhanced the friendly relations built up by Sri Lanka in the
President Rajapaksa who made it a point to discuss the tea, gems and
jewellery sectors which bring in valuable foreign exchange to Sri Lanka
pointed out that priority could be given to these sectors in forging
bilateral trade links between these countries.
Countries in the South African region and Latin America do not depend
on the super countries of the Northern hemisphere any more. They are now
following independent economic and political policies.
Sri Lanka's President has now established an international relations
network in this region. Out of the 62 countries in the African region 54
are sovereign states. Sri Lankan missions have been established in South
Africa, Kenya and Libya. As another step forward the Cabinet of
Ministers approved a policy decision to establish diplomatic relations
with another 15 countries in the African Continent.
They include the Islamic Republic of Moritiania, Republic of Togo,
Republic of Chad, Central African Republic, the Republic of Equatorial
Guinea, Republic of Niger, Republic of Gabon, Republic of Gambia,
Republic of Burkina, Republic of Malavi, Republic of Sierra Leone,
Republic of Cameroons, Republic of Cape Verde, Republic of Djibouti and
the Republic of Ivory Coast.
Accordingly Sri Lanka will earn prestige as a country maintaining
diplomatic relations with nearly 100 countries of the world. But the
responsibility of conducting these relations in a manner profitable and
beneficial to Sri Lanka depended on the entire foreign service.
Rio+20 and the President
In his address to the Earth Summit the President set a good example
to the world by highlighting the efforts made by Sri Lanka to attain
development goals by equal management of the environment. He said the
developed countries which largely contribute to the environmental crisis
cannot and should not leave the responsibility of saving the environment
to developing countries at the cost of their economic development. But
today Sri Lanka is conducting its economic developmental projects in
line with an environmental protection programme. Thereby setting an
example to the whole world.
The President said that we have witnessed an unprecedented level of
environmental degradation, which is proving to be irreversible, due to
unsustainable production and consumption patterns of a handful of
developed countries. The over-riding principle which must be recognized
in full measure by all nations is that of preventing abuse of the
environment. The developed countries which are still contributing
towards the environmental crisis should not shirk the responsibility of
protecting the environment in the developing countries.
The President said the agrarian economy shaped by the ancient
kingdoms in Sri Lanka was very much connected with management of the
environment, disciplined society and economic development.
In the first sermon of the Arahat Mahinda, a disciple of the Buddha,
King Devanampiyatissa was told that the latter was only a trustee of the
land and environment and had no right to destroy these assets which
rightfully belong to the future generations.
The President said after ending a three decade long terrorist
conflict, Sri Lanka is on its way to full economic development. We have
been able to weather the international economic shocks caused by the
recent financial crisis because of the domestic policies contained in
the Mahinda Chinthana.
Environment friendly development
Addressing the Earth Summit President Mahinda Rajapaksa further
stated transition to a green economy must not generate negative
externalities to slowdown the growth of social and economic development
of a country. All people desire a prosperous and peaceful life.
They also wish to see that the concept of sustainable development
becomes a practical reality. These aspirations present an opportunity
for us to make earnest efforts to strike a balance between the interest
of maintaining harmony between 'man and nature' with that of the
environment and development.
He said Sri Lanka's development model is home-grown and one which
respects the environment. His desire and the government's endeavour is
to continue the concept of sustainable development which obtained 2000
years ago with proper management. Sri Lanka believes that Rio +20 is an
excellent opportunity to determine our future goals and establish a road
map for sustainable development based on the Rio principles, in
particular, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities
and respective capabilities.
This year's earth summit can be described as a milestone which
introduced our economic development programme to the world as an
environment friendly process. It is a normal feature to see many
international conferences being subjected to criticism through media.
This year's Rio + Summit made a similar allegation against the BBC World
Service and other international media and it seems to be justifiable.
A small nation like Sri Lanka had much to gain from this summit. We
were able to deliver a good message to the international world build up
a relationship with several Latin American countries and open up avenues
for building political and economic links with that region. Ability to
create an awareness about Sri Lanka among delegates as a beautiful
country following the path to development was a major victory achieved
by the President.
The bilateral talks held and agreements reached with South American
countries showed an extension of diplomatic relations beyond the Asian
region. A counselling discussion on the manner in which this diplomatic
process should be strengthened and utilized began at Diyatalawa
recently. At this discussion the President said the government is
following a non aligned foreign policy and striving to give priority to
Sri Lanka's fundamental needs and aspirations.
In this effort Sri Lanka has endeavoured to maintain friendly
relation with all countries and continue principled and close bilateral
relations with neighbouring countries.
President's message to diplomats
President Mahinda Rajapaksa pointed out that a special dedicated
effort on the part of Sri Lanka's diplomats is essential if Sri Lanka is
to achieve a per capita income of 4,000 US dollars by 2016. He said it
was their duty to facilitate tourism development, foreign investment and
widen international relations and counter adverse propaganda carried out
by LTTE sympathisers without resorting to petty divisions or
Sri Lankan Embassies and missions should pay special attention
towards working the country's progress, economic development and
investment promotion as well as countering adverse propaganda, the
President said. He added that the Northern Province had recorded a 22
percent growth rate with progress in resettlement, rehabilitation,
restoration of normalcy and political stability and this message should
be taken to the international world.
Sri Lanka has created a glittering image in the world map by building
international relations in the economic and social spheres. It can be
further boosted by giving a proper message to the world as a nation, the
President pointed out to the Sri Lankan diplomats.