President Maithripala Sirisena says at 4th BIMSTEC Leaders Summit in Nepal: ‘Commit to fight international drug-trafficking’ | Sunday Observer

President Maithripala Sirisena says at 4th BIMSTEC Leaders Summit in Nepal: ‘Commit to fight international drug-trafficking’

The Chairmanship of the fifth Summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) was handed over to President Maithripala Sirisena by Nepali Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli during the conclusion of the fourth BIMSTEC Summit in Kathmandu on Friday.                                                             Pic: Sudath Silva
The Chairmanship of the fifth Summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) was handed over to President Maithripala Sirisena by Nepali Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli during the conclusion of the fourth BIMSTEC Summit in Kathmandu on Friday. Pic: Sudath Silva

I am very happy that the BIMSTEC summit is successfully held in Kathmandu, Nepal, which is one of our friendly countries. I take this opportunity to thank the organizers and the Prime Minister of Nepal for inviting me to this august forum, that renders important service to the member nations.

In 2016, a BIMSTEC session was held in Goa, India. Today, we are meeting again as member states. Many issues our nations face today, as countries, regions and the world have similar aspects. As friendly nations around the Bay of Bengal region, we have experienced cultural, historical, economic affinities.

Most of the economic, political, and social challenges our nations face today are common. Climate change is one of them. Climate change makes poverty reduction even more difficult, and in fact, it aggravates poverty.

The menace of drugs is a threat to the whole society.

Heroine, hashish, marijuana and other drugs are smuggled into the country mainly by sea. This has largely affected our youth and schoolchildren.They hinder the development of our youth, undermining their education and knowledge. Illicit drugs have become the most serious challenge and they try to dominate world politics by toppling governments, patronizing politicians and governments favourable to them.

I urge BIMSTEC members, to initiate the world community, and all the States to commit themselves to fight illegal drugs trafficking collectively and individually, through a robust international programme that is more organized and stronger than now.

As the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned about the noble intentions of BIMSTEC, to ambitiously promote a Blue economy, it is important for us to free our societies from corruption, fraud, and misappropriation of State assets. We talk about a Green economy as well as a Blue economy. In all these, we must ensure that democracy, human rights, and freedom of media are upheld in whatever political model we adopt. That is the wish of the people.

I am happy that during the last three and a half years since I became President, democracy, human rights, the rule of law and media freedom have been strengthened and the independence of the Judiciary established. Institutions have been established to fight corruption, action taken to punish those guilty of corruption, bribery and malpractices irrespective of their status or political affiliations. In order to achieve the noble goals of BIMSTEC, I stress the need to be committed to strengthen these sectors.

It is also important to make development inclusive and progress in free education and health, agriculture, tourism, and all other major contributors to the economy. It is important, as members of BIMSTEC, that all nations find consensus on what suits our region best.

The BIMSTEC regional bloc is a fast growing region in the world. Sri Lanka, as an Island Nation wishes to make maximum use of the ocean with a new light on ocean research, tourism, fisheries and marine resources.

BIMSTEC is a multi-functional organization that synergizes our efforts to achieve many goals. I do not think BIMSTEC should be limited to cooperation in certain areas only. We can identify and agree on a common agenda for our region taking into consideration the many challenges we face today, at national, regional and international levels.

BIMSTEC has vast experience and strength acquired over the past 20 years, and that could be fully utilized to meet the challenges faced by the Bay of Bengal community.

This organization prospers as it is based on determination and mutual trust. The political and diplomatic leaders gathered here today have the knowledge, experience and the maturity it takes for our collective success in this world, that is reshaped by myriad technological advancements. I take this opportunity to call on my respected fellow leaders to give their fullest support and continued cooperation to achieve the set targets and goals of BIMSTEC for the benefit of all our peoples.

Each of us have a unique cultural heritage, civilization, and a rich history that informs and enriches our future development agendas. BIMSTEC provides a strong support to these ambitious paths.

In conclusion, I express my pleasure and thanks, on behalf of the people and the Government of Sri Lanka, as we stand together at BIMSTEC to achieve our noble goals.

Thank You!

May the Noble Triple Gems Bless You.

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