Nov 10, Addu City: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today called on the South Asian leaders to take immediate action on issues important to the region to reach out to higher levels of achievement for the benefit of the South Asian nations.
“The issues which call for our attention, particularly in the areas of social justice and climate change, require not further discussion but immediate action,” the President said addressing the 17th South Asian Association of Regional Corporation (SAARC) Summit in Addu city of Maldives.
The signing of a number of SAARC agreements during the Summit will upon implementation, further strengthen the framework for regional cooperation especially in the fields of trade and investment, the President pointed out.
Noting that the talent and creativity of the region’s people is the greatest strength of the South Asian nations, the President said the leaders of SAARC countries have a sacred duty to nurture and develop the skills of the people and “enable the full flowering of their personality.”
President Rajapaksa prioritized the need to upgrade the schools in rural areas, which have long been deprived of essential facilities, in all countries in the region to provide total education
Education, health facilities and modern communication, must be made available to all since it is the only way to fully enjoy the advantage of political empowerment, the President said.
He highlighted the need to combat Ignorance, disease and poverty, calling them the common enemies of all the region’s nations.
“Common approaches to combating these evils must go to the root of initiatives by our governments at this time. Social equity must go hand in hand with economic progress,” the President emphasized.
Pointing out that the benefits arising from economic development do not automatically percolate down to the grassroots level, President Rajapaksa called for proper intervention by governments in the region to achieve this objective.
“A necessary condition for achieving all these is peace and security throughout our region,” the President stressed.
The President pointed out to the SAARC leaders that the region’s own cultural traditions, aspirations and beliefs handed down from generation to generation must be the basis of the solutions for the issues confronting the South Asian nations and not “solutions imported into our societies”.
“Sustainability is a hallmark of home-grown solutions,” the President said.
The President said there is sufficient resolve and vision to deliver effectively, according to the expectations of the region’s people and urged the leaders to “collectively strengthen our resolve and make SAARC a really potent instrument for the service of all our peoples.”
(Photos by Sudath Silva)