Government to end conflict with honour- Kohona

(August 28, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The government is committed to end the conflict in an honourable and sustainable manner as soon as possible, Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr. Palitha Kohona said in a speech at the Asian Aviation training centre.

Dr. Kohona said that the terrorist threat will be countered, using the military forces of the State and the inevitable result of this approach will be recognised adding that those who still choose to follow the path of violence and terrorism will recognise the evil in their ways and return to the democratic fold and opt for peace.

“The people of this country need peace. Our industry needs peace. The government is committed to establishing a framework for a lasting and honourable peace. In parallel, in an inclusive spirit, the government will also reach out to all communities by re-establishing and strengthening democratic institutions throughout the country, so that the people will be empowered,” Dr. Kohona said.

He said the goal of the government through the recent polls is to re-establish the democratic traditions throughout the country and restore confidence in the process from Point Pedro to Matara.

“We inherited the democratic tradition from our colonial masters and it has been a part of our body politic for over eighty five years. It is now very much a part of our political life. Admittedly, there are shortcomings and imperfections. No country can boast of a perfect democratic framework. We also need to work at improving our democracy. This will be our sacred responsibility. We must create a democracy that enshrines individual rights, respect differences and facilitates accommodation. It is our hope that once our inclusive democracy is re-established throughout the country, these dreams that were denied to us all these years would be realised,” he said.

Dr. Kohona said the domestic aviation industry has suffered considerably over the last 25 years noting that because of the conflict, the endless opportunities that were available to develop the domestic aviation industry have been lost.

“We have been denied opportunities to expand and succeed in an area that was naturally open to us. Sri Lanka could have benefited considerably by developing a domestic aviation network. Not only do we have many local air fields, the network of tanks was readymade for seaplanes. Unfortunately, this has not happened. Our tourism industry would have benefited considerably had there been a world class aviation industry in this country. Our beach resorts, the hill country, the golf courses and the archaeological sites could have been linked by air, thereby avoiding the dusty and noisy options now available by road. The quick access to our resorts to those who can afford is simply not readily available. A habit of flying for pleasure and sport could have been developed. In addition to other industries, tourism, in particular, has suffered due to the terrorist threat,” he said.

He however expressed optimism that with advances made by the Security Forces in the North, before long the government would be able to restore normalcy in the country and thereby create a framework for re-invigorating those industries which would have been well developed by now, if not for the terrorist threat.
- Sri Lanka Guardian