President Mahinda Rajapaksa returned to the island yesterday (June17) after Golden Jubilee of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Group of 77 and China (G77+China).
The President was received at the Bandaranaike International Airport by several cabinet ministers, members of parliament and other officials.
G 77 Summit was held at the Expo Cruz Center in Santa Cruz, Bolivia from June 14-15 under the theme "For a New World Order for Living Well”.
President Rajapaksa is the first Sri Lankan Head of State to visit the South American country.
The Group of 77, popularly known as G77, is a coalition of developing nations designed to promote its members’ collective economic interests and enhance their joint negotiating capacity on all major international economic issues within the United Nations system, and promote South-South cooperation for development.
The Group of 77 was founded on June 15, 1964, by the ‘Joint Declaration of Seventy-Seven Developing Countries’ issued at the end of the first session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva. It is also the largest intergovernmental organization of developing countries in the United Nations.
The number of founding members of the Group was 77 countries; but by November 2013, the organization’s member states rose to 133. Sri Lanka is among the founding members.
During the visit President Rajapaksa had bilateral discussions with several world leaders who were attending the Summit.
“We must work together to overcome obstacles including unjustified external forces,” President Mahinda Rajapaksa told during a meeting with Namibian Prime Minister Hage Geingob. “The situations of the countries which were subjected to foreign interferences are worse today than before. Those countries are more chaotic, and it is the only thing that had happened.”
The Namibian Prime Minister, explaining the similar situation his country is faced with, expressed d his gratitude to President Rajapaksa for Sri Lanka’s assistance extended towards Namibia.
On June 15, President Rajapaksa together with Heads of State of and high-level delegations of the 133-member Group of 77, and heads of many international organizations attended the opening ceremony of G 77, which was held under the patronage of the current G77 Chairman, the President of Bolivia Evo Morales, U.N. Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon and the U.N. General Assembly President Mr. John W. Ashe.
Prime Minister of Gabon Mr. Daniel Ona Ondo, President of Uruguay Mr. José Mujica and President of Equatorial Guinea Mr. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo met President Rajapaksa for bilateral discussion.
During the meeting President explained Sri Lanka’s actual situation to them and they expressed their gratitude to President Rajapaksa for apprising them of the real situation. This enlightenment will be truly helpful when taking future decisions, they said.
President Rajapaksa also met with Cuban President Raul Castro who assured the President of Cuba’s continuous support to Sri Lanka at international forums.
"We like to work with leaders like you,” President Castro said. “Fidel wanted me to convey his regards to all friends of Cuba. You are one of our friends.”
Addressing the 50th Anniversary Commemoration Summit of Heads of State and Governments of the Group of 77+China on June 15, President Rajapaksa said the solidarity manifested at the highest levels among the developing countries, will help invigorate the collective efforts of the South to put economic and development concerns of the Group, on top of the global agenda.
During the bilateral discussion with the Sri Lankan President, Bolivian President Evo Morales expressed his willingness to work closely with Sri Lanka.
The Bolivian government awarded President Rajapaksa “Parliamentary Order Merit Democratic Rep. Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruza”.
The award, which is the highest honor presented by the Plurinational State of Bolivia, recognizes contributions to peace and democracy.
Bolivia said President Rajapaksa was selected for this prestigious award for defeating terrorism and restoring peace and development in Sri Lanka. It also recognizes President Rajapaksa’s commitment to human rights and his initiative to improve and expand relations with South America, including Bolivia.