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New year greeting from Minister Bogollagama

by Rohitha Bogollagama, MP,
Minister of Foreign Affairs

(January 01, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) I have great pleasure in sending this message to all Sri Lankans at home and abroad on the happy occasion of the dawn of the New Year - 2009.

The past year has been quite significant in raising Sri Lanka's international profile. The notable highlight of our successful diplomacy was the hosting of the 15th SAARC Summit in Colombo, with the participation of 8 Heads of State or Government and 7 Observers. The assumption of the SAARC Chair has imposed a heavy responsibility on Sri Lanka. However, Sri Lanka under the dynamic leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa will be equal to the task of discharging its responsibilities for the greater benefit and welfare of the peoples of the SAARC region in the coming year.

Sri Lanka's prestige on the world stage has been greatly enhanced by her high level participation in several international conferences last year. Her contribution towards the successful outcome of the deliberations at these fora has been widely acclaimed. Among the key gatherings that Sri Lanka participated were the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) in China, the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore, the High Level Conference on World Food Security (World Food Summit) in Rome, the 15th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Singapore, the 15th Ministerial Meeting of the Non-aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran, the 30th Meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) in New York, the 63rd Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, the 7th Ministerial Meeting of the Asia Co-operation Dialogue (ACD) in Astana, Kazakhstan, the 2nd Summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Economic & Technical Co-operation (BIMSTEC) in New Delhi and the inaugural meeting of the Bali Democracy Forum in Indonesia. It is noteworthy that President Rajapaksa himself led the Sri Lanka delegation to the Boao Forum, the World Food Summit, the UN General Assembly Session and the BIMSTEC Summit.

2009 will also be an equally eventful year of high intensity for the Foreign Ministry, with several visits of Heads of State or Government to Sri Lanka and the hosting of some important regional and international conferences being planned.

The year ahead will be a challenging one for Sri Lanka as we prepare ourselves to cope with the adverse impact of the global economic downturn that has set in. In this context, I urge all our overseas Missions to rise to the challenge of securing new markets for our exports, while expanding our existing market share in the countries of their accreditation. While appreciating their hard work and dedication in promoting the Economic Diplomacy Initiative spearheaded by the Foreign Ministry, since I assumed office as Foreign Minister, the need of the hour is for our Missions to re-dedicate themselves to achieving the set targets with renewed vigour. I also call upon the Sri Lankan diaspora to extend their whole-hearted support and co-operation in this endeavour, which will directly benefit the people of Sri Lanka.

Terrorism is the common enemy of the people and by far poses the most serious challenge to democracy, human rights and other fundamental values that the people of Sri Lanka dearly cherish and have for so long taken for granted. The LTTE has time and again demonstrated its callous disregard for the sanctity of human life through its numerous cold-blooded attacks on civilians. The latest suicide bomb atrocity last Sunday after Mass in the vicinity of the St Anne's Church in Wattala should disabuse the minds of those who are calling for a cease-fire, of the diabolical intent of the LTTE. Our brave security forces are on course to rid our motherland once and for all of the menace of terrorism. Hence, it is incumbent upon all patriotic citizens of Sri Lanka, both at home and abroad, irrespective of racial, religious or linguistic differences, to strengthen the hand of the Government at this critical juncture to realize this objective.

I am confident that with hard work, commitment and perseverance, we will be able to usher in an era of lasting and sustainable peace and prosperity for all our people. I avail myself of this opportunity to extend my warm and sincere greetings to all Sri Lankans, for a bright and prosperous New Year.
- Sri Lanka Guardian

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