My view on SAARC

Message from Mr. Rohitha Bogollagama Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka on the occasion of the Commemoration of SAARC Charter Day 8 December 2008

(December 08, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) It gives me great pleasure to extend greetings on the twenty-third anniversary of the signing of the Charter by which the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established.

Our collective resolve over the years since the signature of the Charter has ensured considerable progress in realizing several of its important objectives. SAARC has been committed from its very inception to comprehensive programmes of cooperation that cover the economic, technical, scientific, social and cultural fields. It has, over the years, worked steadily on building its institutional structures. However, SAARC is work-in-progress. And we must continue with firm resolve to find solutions to our common problems and challenges in a spirit of amity, mutual respect and cooperation.

Sri Lanka is honoured to have hosted the Fifteenth SAARC Summit in Colombo in August 2008 where a number of important decisions leading to increased cooperation and joint coordinated action on problems common to the region were reached. The “Colombo Statement on Food Security” which called for urgent operationalization of the SAARC Food Bank and the call of our leaders for the holding of an Extraordinary Meeting of SAARC Agriculture Ministers which was held in New Delhi in November 2008 to evolve and implement people-centred short to medium term regional strategies and collaborative projects to ensure region-wide food security are among the significant recent outcomes of the SAARC process.

While SAARC continues to actively pursue its main objectives of promotion of the welfare of the people of South Asia and improvement of the quality of their lives, it is essential, especially in light of recent events in our region, to address the threat of terrorism which has the potential to affect relations between our nations that are vital for economic connectivity, and peace and security in the region. In this context, it is important that we resolve to implement all international Conventions against terrorism to which we are party in addition to the SAARC Regional Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, its Additional Protocol, the Regional Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances as well as the SAARC Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters to ensure a greater sense of security within our region.

SAARC is now embarking on greater connectivity in the context of intra-regional and people-to-people contact. This will culminate in greater strides in the coming years in sharing the pursuits of education, health and economic empowerment.

I compliment the member countries for the initiatives taken for enhanced regional cooperation. I wish to reiterate the need to address the challenges that confront us, including the scourge of terrorism, with firmer commitment.

It is now essential as we embark on the implementation phase of SAARC, to re-commit ourselves to the ideals and objectives of SAARC to make our region secure and prosperous.
- Sri Lanka Guardian