Sri Lanka's defeat of terrorism and the resulting peace and stability benefitted not only the island nation but the entire South Asian region and it is only right and proper the magnitude of these benefits should receive recognition, Professor G.L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs, said in Colombo yesterday.
Delivering the keynote address at the workshop for establishing an Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Centre of Excellence on Ocean Sciences and Environment at the Hilton Hotel in Colombo Monday (30th June), the Minister Peiris said Sri Lanka's contribution to the development of the economy in the region far exceeds its size and material resources.
He pointed out that terrorism is one of the main issues which continue to challenge the economy and wellbeing of many of the countries in the region and therefore, Sri Lanka's success in eradicating terrorism has had a crucial impact on weakening the forces destabilizing the entire region and, especially, reducing the opportunities for collaboration among terrorist groups active in the area.
The Minister noted Sri Lanka's increasing role in ensuring the security of sea lanes in the Indian Ocean by helping to control people smuggling and a wide range of connected illegal activity involving drugs and narcotics, money laundering and the proliferation of small arms.
Priorities reflected in the country's economic policy reflect a timely focus on conservation and management of ocean resources, Minister Peiris said adding that the use of these resources in a systematic way over a continuing time frame, with special emphasis on the environment, and having recourse to the blue economy as a fillip to leisure activities important for the development of tourism.
In the overall context of developments relating to the blue economy, facilities for study and research assume heightened relevance, Prof. Peiris observed. He said that support for a center of excellence in ocean studies, located in the deep south of Sri Lanka, is a matter of high priority.
He said the strong endorsement Sri Lanka's proposal in this regard received in international fora in recent months is encouraging.
He commended the present initiative by the Institute of Policy Studies and pledged the government's strong support for carrying this forward.
The Ministry of External Affairs, along with the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) and Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRSS) is organizing the two-day workshop for the IORA member states to discuss the modalities of establishing the Centre of Excellence (CoE).
The workshop aims to present the structure and implementation of the proposed CoE among the member countries and local partners, and get their comments and suggestions.
The proposed Centre envisions building scientific and technological capacity in ocean sciences research and sustainable collaborative utilization of ocean resources. It will support regional collaboration among Indian Ocean Rim countries and serve as a partnership for institutions that support scientific and socio-economic research in relation to the Indian Ocean region.
The Indian Ocean Rim region, which is home to nearly one-third of the world's population, carries high economic significance due to its strategic location.
IORA, which was earlier known as the Indian Ocean Rim - Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) prior to 2013, is a group of 20 countries that border the Indian Ocean Rim, spanning three continents, Africa, Asia and Australia. Sri Lanka is a founder member of the organization.
The workshop will conclude today.