FM hails BIMSTEC Convention on combating terrorism

FM hails BIMSTEC Convention on combating terrorism

Statement by Hon. Rohitha Bogollagama,
Minister of Foreign Affairs at the 11th Session of the BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting 12 November 2008,
New Delhi

Your Excellency Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Minister of External Affairs of India,
Distinguished delegates,

It is indeed a pleasure to be in New Delhi on the occasion of the 11th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting. It’s like coming home. It is a quick follow up to the 10th such Meeting which we had in this historic city only a few weeks ago.

I must place on record our appreciation to the Government of India for the excellent arrangements that have been made for this Meeting. We continue to enjoy your great hospitality. We meet this morning on the eve of a very significant event. I am referring to the Second BIMSTEC Summit, which will be held tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s meeting of our leaders constitutes only the second such meeting of our grouping, the last being held in 2004. I sincerely believe that all Member States would like to use this momentous occasion to push forth, as much as we can, the ideals on which BIMSTEC was founded over a decade ago.

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Distinguished delegates,

I think we could all take pride in the fact that in the 11 years since its founding BIMSTEC activities have expanded. Today there are 13 crucial sectors of cooperation, which engage our attention. And there could be more in time to come.

It is significant to note that our officials after much deliberations have completed the negotiations in regard to the “Convention on cooperation in combating international terrorism, transnational organized crime and illicit drug trafficking”. This is indeed a Convention that is most relevant to the times that we live in. BIMSTEC Member States, in varying degrees, have been affected by the scourge of terrorism. That we have been able to make ready this Convention is a compelling message that we would be able to convey to these purveyors of violence, destruction and death. In short we are telling them ‘you can run but you cannot hide’. Such is their modus operandi that they often commit a terrible crime in one country and hide in another. By the Convention that is ready for signature we are denying these terror groups of the freedom they require to commit such crimes. Sri Lanka hopes that this Convention will be signed as expeditiously as possible.

Sri Lanka is pleased to be the location for the establishment of the BIMSTEC Technology Transfer Exchange Facility. Technology plays a key role and influence the destinies of all segments of our peoples. Therefore the sharing of the substantial knowledge base in this key area will have a trickle down effect in improving living standards.

Energy security has assumed critical importance in recent times. We are all dependent on crude oil in terms of our energy needs. Oil prices have been subject to great volatility and they have impacted on our economies in differing scales. It is timely that the BIMSTEC Energy Centre which will be set up soon will have the development of new and other renewable sources of energy as a core area of cooperation. The promotion of energy trade is another area in which this Centre will concentrate upon. This will enable member states to supply sources of energy that they have in excess to those who are not that well endowed, in a ‘live and let live’ manner.

The vagaries of unpredictable weather patterns affect us all, in particular those of our peoples in agriculture. Therefore the BIMSTEC Centre for weather and climate would enable us to share information in this area for the common good. The establishment of a regional data bank is indeed an important step.

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Distinguished delegates,

Existing as we are in a region where the private sector plays such a significant role in boosting our economies, Sri Lanka is happy that BIMSTEC Business Summit, bringing together the private sectors of Member States would be held in New Delhi today. Its timing is but a happy reflection of how we in the public sector and the private sector could combine as an engine of growth for the betterment of our countries and peoples.

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Distinguished delegates,

I have briefly touched upon some core areas of activity in which BIMSTEC is engaged, out of a total of 13 sectors all of which are of equal importance. We need these sectors to be anchored and guided. In this regard Sri Lanka strongly believes that the sooner a BIMSTEC Secretariat is set up the better it would be for our grouping. For those of us who are members of the SAARC, it is very clear as regards the dynamic and vibrant role played by its Secretariat in Kathmandu when weighed in terms of what it has achieved. I am sure with the establishment of the Secretariat progress in BIMSTEC could take place in an institutionalized and speedy manner and Sri Lanka is glad to assist in this regard by offering to host BIMSTEC Secretariat in Colombo. Excellencies, we look forward for your support in this regard.

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Distinguished delegates,

As I said before BIMSTEC has come a long way since its founding in 1997. Its areas of cooperation continue to expand. Its membership has also expanded. A common thread of culture, religious ties, even a unique way of life have brought us together to be members of this grouping in a spirit of friendship and cooperation. We must build on these synergies for the greater good of our countries and peoples.

Thank you.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

12 November 2008

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