Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Norway Prof. Arusha Cooray addresses the event marking Sri Lanka’s 71st Independence Day celebrations in Oslo
- Ambassador in Norway Prof. Arusha Cooray highlights Sri Lanka’s successes at 71st Independence Day celebrations in Oslo
- Says bi-lateral relationship between two countries has grown significantly in the recent past
- Asks Norwegians thinking of a holiday to make SL their next destination
Sri Lanka has been a strong promoter of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has successfully achieved a number of them, which include universal primary education and gender parity in school enrolment, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Norway Prof. Arusha Cooray noted recently.
“We met the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of halving poverty at the national level, seven years before the 2015 MDG deadline. The Blue-Green Budget of 2018 is further evidence of Sri Lanka governments’ commitment to addressing key dimensions of sustainable development,” Ambassador Cooray said, while addressing the gathering at an event held to mark Sri Lanka’s 71st Independence Day celebrations in Oslo.
Following are excerpts of her speech:
It is exactly 71 years, since Sri Lanka gained independence from Britain. Since independence, Sri Lanka has faced a number of challenges: a 26-year-old ethnic war, a civil conflict and last year, we were confronted by a constitutional crisis.
As we celebrate independence, we are thankful for what we have overcome, and, for how far we have progressed. Today therefore, we will not dwell on our challenges, but focus on our achievements. Sri Lanka is named ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, not without reason. It is so named due to its incredible beauty and biodiversity. It is home to eight UNESCO global heritage listed sites, and has been voted the No. 1 destination to visit in 2019, by Lonely Planet. So, if you are thinking of a holiday, SL should be your next destination. Sri Lanka additionally has vast agricultural potential and is currently the world’s biggest exporter of cinnamon, and the world’s second largest exporter of tea.
Ladies and gentlemen, something that SL has in common with Norway is its strong welfare state. Although a low middle-income country, we are proud of ranking high in terms of numerous social welfare indices, with long life expectancy, low infant mortality, and high levels of literacy. Sri Lanka’s classified as a ‘high human development index’ country by the United Nations, with a human development index above the average of 0.76 for countries in the high human development group. This has been due to the commitment of successive governments to the welfare state. Sri Lanka’s governments have also been strong promoters of the SDG goals, and we have successfully achieved a number of SDG goals, which include universal primary education and gender parity in school enrolment.
Ladies and gentlemen, as we celebrate Sri Lanka’s Independence, I should mention that Norway occupies a special place among our international partners. Therefore, today, also gives us the opportunity to thank the Norwegian government and the people of Norway, for the support that was given to us during the reconciliation process, and the continued support to us in our developmental and rehabilitation efforts.
The bi-lateral relationship between SL and Norway has grown significantly in the recent past entering a new phase of friendship and cooperation. The past three years have seen a number of high-level visits between the two countries, including those at the Prime Ministerial level. Another bond linking our countries is the significant presence of Norwegian citizens of Sri Lankan origin, who actively engage in many spheres of Norwegian life. Norway, will therefore, continue to remain a valued partner of Sri Lanka. Let us work together to further strengthen our political, economic and global partnership.