Opens new door for SAARC

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to Bangladesh :

Opens new door for SAARC

The visit of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to
Bangladesh has created a new impression in Bangladesh. The outstanding
speech of the Sri Lankan President impressed the people of Bangladesh

The Sri Lankan President gave an outstanding speech at the state
banquet of the Bangladeshi President. In his speech he expressed, that
the friendship of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka is based on ancient history
and civilization. He added that, ‘Sri Lanka and Bangladesh share a
long-standing friendship based on history and ancient civilizations,
with cultural links and commonalities. The origins of our ties go back
many centuries.’

President Mahinda Rajapaksa with
Bangladesh President Zillur Rahman. Picture by Sudath Silva

According to our great chronicle, the Mahavamsa, Prince Vijaya and
his 700 followers, who are our forefathers, had come to Sri Lanka from
ancient Bengal, which is now part of Bangladesh. History and culture
bind us together. In his speech, President Mahinda Rajapaksa also added
that, we want to cultivate people-to-people relations between Sri Lanka
and Bangladesh.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa is also a leader of SAARC. As a leader of
SAARC he correctly identified what the main bondage of the people of
South Asia is. Every intellectual of this region will admit that, the
old civilization of this region is the main component of connectivity to
the people of SAARC.

Origins of people

With his greatness President Rajapaksa admits that, their forefathers
went there from Bengal which is now Bangladesh. So according to history,
the peoples of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have flourished from the same
civilization. If we go back to anthropology, we will know that the
origins of the people of these two countries have a common starting
place. They are in the same ethnic group. They have the same blood and
same civilization.

We know that the modern state is a creation of politics. Through a
state organization, politics is now ruling society but society and its
civilization is more and more older than politics. That is why, if any
political leader wants to establish good politics with his people and
the peoples of his neighbouring countries, he must have to depend on his
society’s civilization and the civilization of his neighbours. However,
most of the political leaders do not do this. They fail to understand
this. Only some politicians can understand this. The President of Sri
Lanka is such a politician who has understood this truth. He believed in
the civilization of society and its people. That is why; we could say
that, at the banquet accorded by the Bangladeshi President, President
Mahinda Rajapaksa has opened a new avenue for the people of SAARC. We
know that, for the strengthening of relations of South Asian countries
and its people; SAARC was founded; but it has not been functioning well
from the beginning.

SAARC leaders

Most of the SAARC leaders had tried to have good relations through a
political settlement of regional issues. Nobody thought that, we can
have relations with one country and another through a political
settlement. Permanent regional cooperation never depends on any
political negotiation. It always depends on permanent relations through
people to people contacts. The Leader of Sri Lanka has indicated this.
He said, we have to create people-to-people relations and it is
possible, because we are the people of a common civilization.

The leaders of this region found SAARC to create good relations
between South Asian countries. Their vision was very good but it did not
have any success over the last three decades.

Therefore, it is high time to think about this; why are we failing to
have good relations with each other? Why are we failing to have all
types of communications? Why is politics not sufficient to establish it?
It is proven now that, only politics is not sufficient to build
relationships. Therefore, SAARC leaders have to realize that we have to
build people-to-people relations. If they want to build this
relationship they have to think like President Rajapaksa.

On his Bangladesh visit, President Rajapaksa said the civilizations
of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are the same. Now is the time that all SAARC
leaders to realize that the civilizations of Afghanistan, Pakistan,
India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives are the same. If we
could realize this and we could believe it deep down in our hearts like
President Rajapaksa, that we could make the people-to-people connection

The people-to-people connection between Bangladesh-Sri Lanka also
depends on this. For example; hundreds of thousands of people in
Bangladesh know Sri Lanka through cricket and the manner in which Sri
Lankans are known to play the game. I think the Sri Lankan High
Commission in Bangladesh can give correct information on how many
Bangladeshis supported the Sri Lankan cricket team at the last World Cup
cricket final.

We know that, half of the total number of cricket lovers of
Bangladesh supported the Sri Lankan team on April 2. It is really an
example of people-to-people relations. It is possible only through
cultural communication. It is called people-to-people communications. It
is the power of culture.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has emphasized on this communication.
During his three-day visit, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka signed five
Memoranda of Understanding. These five areas are agriculture, fisheries,
vocational education, science and culture. Besides the five MoUs the
leaders of the two countries emphasized on better communication. It is
more vital for the two countries with similar civilizations to build and
strengthen the levels of communication if we are to improve trade,
cultural relations between the two countries.

Therefore, the two countries’ leaders must try to introduce
low-priced air communication for their citizens.

The two countries can remove all types of travel taxes. Easy air
communications will help not only to build cultural relations but also
become more helpful for extended trade cooperation.

The visit of the Sri Lankan President has opened a new avenue for
Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. On the other hand, the speech of President
Rajapaksa has opened a new door for SAARC.


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