Your Excellency, President Xi Jinping of China, Chairman of this Summit
Distinguished Heads of State and Government of CICA member countries and observerstates,
Ladies and Gentlemen
Allow me to congratulate Your Excellency, President Xi Jingpin, onChina’s assumption of the chairmanship of this strategically important regional body. I convey our sincere appreciation, to the Government of the People’s Republic of China, for the warm hospitality extended,and the excellent arrangements to host this Summit.
I also wish to acknowledge the role of His Excellency NursultanNazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan, for his farsighted initiative, which resulted in the formation of CICA. Although he is not here, I express my appreciation of the untiring efforts of the outgoing Chairman, His Excellency Abdullah Gul, President of Turkey,during whose tenure, Sri Lanka became an observer of CICA, in May last year.
Conference theme this year,‘Strengthening the trust and cooperation and building a peaceful and stable new Asia’is of topical relevance to us all. I am therefore pleased to address this august body on ‘Measures to enhance mutual confidence between all parties’.
The Statement made by His Excellency, President Xi Jingping, contained a number of important elements for CICA cooperation worthy of consideration, particularly the vision of a new Asian security concept. It is indeed appropriate that Asia takes the lead in the settlement of any Asian affair, and CICA as a multilateral mechanism on security in Asia, should seek to engage appropriately on the proposals made by His Excellency the President of China, towards this end.
Asia is a vibrant and dynamic region and as the emerging global powerhouse,international focus on Asia is increasing,bringing a multitude of opportunities and challenges,from both within the region as well as from external sources.
For building peace and stability in a region, it is imperative that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our nations are secure. Sadly, we have watched this fundamental right of States,being violatedelsewhere in the world. With self-interests at the core, some external entities, using the guise ofdemocracy, have sought to interfere in the domestic affairs of countries, resulting in de-stabilizing these nations and thereby even those regions.
Creating domestic disharmony is their start point. We have witnessed the corrupt use of social media including the internet, to create domestic unrest and cybercrime.
Youth have been targeted, and they have become pawns of the misplaced agendas. These are dangerous trends that need to be arrested, and addressed, effectively through this forum.
In this regard, regular exchanges of information and strengthening contact and cooperation between the relevant authorities in the member states are necessary. We should also place youth, centrally in our policy priorities,in a bid to inculcate correct value systems in accordance with their indigenous cultures, and take on board their requirements. I believe that the outcome of the World Conference on Youth, just concluded in Sri Lanka, has paved the way for this purpose.
There are ofcourse the known challenges of the threat, posed by transnational organized crime, terrorism and its financing, drug trafficking, human smuggling and money laundering, which also transcend national boundaries,impinging on the sovereignty of nation states.I believe that CICAmembers can work together to guard against threats to the territorial integrity of each other’s borders,from external sources, through strong cooperation.
Let me share with you the experience of my country on effectively eliminating terrorism, which presently poses a significant challenge to many countries in Asia.
Five years ago, Sri Lanka emerged from the brutality of terrorism,lasting over three decades.My country could not have overcome this challenge without the cooperation and assistance of our friends.
My Government has successfully ushered in an era of peace, whichhas enabled all our people to benefit from the dividends, setting the country on the path to further economic prosperity. Sri Lanka today, has a wealth of experience to share in this regard at a forum such as CICA.
Regrettably, the eradication of terrorism in Sri Lanka, has now given rise to a punitive campaign being carried out by interested parties for their own ends. It is unfortunate that this campaign has introduced continuing obstacles. The need of the hour, however, is goodwill and solidarity to deal with the universal challenge to peace, stability and prosperity.
I am of the view that this forum can provide the right platformfor CICA members to share their experiencesand learn important lessons on countering terrorism, including the action for prevention by member states, of the activities of separatist and extremist organizations on their soil.
Economic disparity and poverty can likewise destabilize nations.Therefore, it is necessary for member states to explore possible avenues for trade and economic cooperation andwidening of collaboration among financial sectors.
Further, steps are also essential to ensure energy security cooperation, among CICAmembersby developing and enhancing the efficiency and safety of the routesand security of the supply of energy. The CICAregion is rich in energy resources and should be secured against any external threats posed.
Enhancing mutual confidence between the diversity of its Asian members and creating an environment of trust and cooperation is central to the basic objectives of CICA.
Peace, security and stability are vital for progress and economic development in a nation or a region, as has been demonstrated by Sri Lanka, since eliminating terrorism. It is absolutely essential therefore, that we work collectively to create a peaceful and stable new Asia.
The ongoing projects by twelve countries within the CICA framework, tocreate measures to enhance mutual confidence among member states on the economic, environment, human, military and political dimensions, will, I am sure, pave the way in the future for a peaceful and stable new Asia, we envision.
Sri Lanka is indeedhonoredto participate as an observer state, and we are committed to the founding principles of CICAand look forward to actively engaging in allthe deliberations of this important body.
May the blessings of the Noble Triple Gem be with you all.
HC/NP_PS&IMU_Photos by: Sudath Silva