President Maithripala Sirisena called upon the international community to look at Sri Lanka with a fresh perspective and consider the tremendous progress made by the Government towards reconciliation, restoration of democratic freedoms, human rights and the rule of law and extend the fullest support to the build a progressive, democratic, free and equal society.
Addressing the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 25 September (26 morning SL time), he said Sri Lanka was taking action to consolidate peace and forge ahead to develop the economy, and such a nation deserves the support and understanding of the international community. “I urge the international community to allow Sri Lankan people to solve their problems on their own,” he said.
“As an independent country we do not want any foreign power to exert influence on us. We want to appeal to the international community to give us the room to resolve the problems that we are facing so that the right of the Sri Lankan people to find solutions to their problems is respected,” he said.
The President said that the Government was working to eliminate fear and suspicion among different communities.
Quoting from the Buddha’s preaching in the Sallasutta of Samyuktha Nikaye in Thripitaka, he said: “If a man is pierced with a dart, he will suffer physical pain. When he worries about it, he suffers more pain. Hence, there are two kinds of pains suffered by the man. When it comes to Sri Lanka, it is the people who suffered pain due to war and they continue to feel pain when they think about it. Therefore, I take this opportunity to call upon your support and cooperation.”
The President pointed out that the exodus of refugees was a major issue in international politics and urged the United Nations to play a bigger role because of the paramount importance of the issue.
“Sri Lanka is following a non-aligned policy. In fact, Sri Lanka hosted the Non-Aligned Summit in 1976 and it was the most successful summit. Sri Lanka has a policy of friendship with all and the country does not have any enemy nation in the world,” he said.
President Sirisena said that Sri Lanka’s executive president had been vested with more powers than any other leader in the world and he had curtailed those excessive powers of the executive presidency and transferred those powers to the Parliament.
President Sirisena emphasised on the need to eradicate poverty. At present, the whole world is engaged in an attempt to free itself from poverty and he said the United Nations must play a bigger role in the endeavour.
“I must mention that, today, the whole world is facing challenges posed by severe changes in climate. I would like to propose that the community of nations must focus on implementing the Paris Accord that the world reached in 2015, by further improving the unity that we reached by signing that accord. We must remember that the Paris Accord is critically important to the future of the entire biosphere and humanity,” he said.
The President categorically stated that the Government was committed to work tirelessly to achieve reconciliation by fostering understanding among all ethnic and linguistic groups, while eliminating mutual suspicion and hatred in order to create a society where all can live freely and harmoniously.
“Further, we are dedicated to ensure that the country will accomplish economic prosperity. Specially, my Government is committed to the creating a fair and just society by strengthening the rule of law,” he said.
He said that during the last three-and-a-half years, the Government had taken several important steps that were necessary to consolidate democracy, freedom, good governance, media freedom and independence of the Judiciary. “Through such transformative steps, we have laid the foundation necessary to forge national reconciliation, communal harmony and ensure non-recurrence of conflict in our country,” he said.
“As a country that has suffered violent conflict for 30 years, we are drawing from experience and lessons learned to strengthen national reconciliation, and we are determined to prevent the recurrence of conflict. We have given priority in this context to consolidate freedom and democracy in our country, and through a strong foundation of national reconciliation forged through unity and friendship among communities.”
President Sirisena pointed out that the most ruthless terrorists were defeated by the armed forces and the nation honoured the valiant soldiers who made many sacrifices to bring peace to the country and safeguarded the unity and sovereignty of the nation with utmost commitment.
He emphasised that the vision of the Government was to ensure sustained economic development through the increase of domestic agriculture and industry under an environment friendly policies and programs. He emphasised on the imperative need to adhere to the Paris Protocol on Climate Change for the sake of the future of human beings as well as flora and fauna.
“Sir Lanka has always been a country that has respected its treaties and conventions, agreements and rules and regulations of the United Nations. As such, in our country’s journey where we protect our independence and sovereignty, we respectfully request the support of the international community for us to go on a moderate but steady path to achieve our targets in order to find sustainable solutions to the allegations leveled against us,” the President said.
President Sirisena called on the world leaders to take a collective action for eradication of narcotic drugs and illegal pharmaceuticals. He said he wanted to draw the attention of the respected General Assembly of the United Nations to the problem of drugs that poses a serious threat to human society and asked the world body to play a bigger role in eliminating drugs.
The President said that in the international politics, the issue of Palestine was very important and reiterated Sri Lanka’s support to the people of Palestine.