Statement by Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka in the plenary session of the Foreign Ministers meeting of the 14th NAM Summit - Cuba

Statement by Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka in the plenary session of the Foreign Ministers meeting of the 14th NAM Summit - Cuba

Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished Delegates

First of all, I would like to congratulate Cuba in taking over the leadership of the 14th Non-Aligned Movement. I also like to thank you for the gracious hospitality extended and the excellent arrangements made to host this summit in Havana.

I would also like to congratulate the outgoing Chairman, Dato’ Seri Syed Hamid Albar, Foreign Minister of Malaysia for the wise stewardship of our Movement during the last three years.

To Haiti, and St. Kitts and Nevis, I extend a warm welcome as you join the family of Non-Aligned countries. The growing membership is a clear indication that NAM remains a potent force despite the global context in which the Non-Aligned Movement was formed has now changed.

Mr. Chairman, I like to congratulate you on the commendable draft document, “the Declaration on the purposes and principles and the role of the Non-Aligned Movement in the present international juncture” which will serve as a roadmap to guide the Non Aligned Movement in the next several years.

In this document you have touched upon the two greatest challenges many of us in developing nations need to overcome: The twin evils of Poverty and Terrorism.  As a matter of fact, in section 9L of the draft, it correctly states that NAM rejects and opposes terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.  It also states that, “In this context terrorism should not be equated with the legitimate struggle of peoples under colonialism or alien domination and foreign occupation for self-determination and national liberation.

Many ruthless terrorist organizations in the world try to portray themselves as “Freedom Fighters.”  It is important that we don’t confuse the role of terrorists with that of national liberation struggles. Most terrorist organizations are not pursuing a legitimate struggle of people under colonial or alien domination but are merely trying to carve out large areas of land and secede from countries that have remained united for centuries in order to pursue their fascistic agendas.

No matter what the root causes of terrorism may be, there can never be any justification for the violence, death and destruction terrorism causes. In addition, countries should not have double standards when dealing with terrorism.  One can not be duplicitous or selective in condemning and combatting terrorism whether it occurs in New York, London, Mumbai or Sri Lanka.

There is emerging evidence that terror groups world over share their deadly know-how despite the ideological differences they may have. For example, IISS of London states that the suicide jackets used in the London attack of July 2005 were similar to the suicide jackets used by the LTTE in Sri Lanka in the 1990’s.  In the face of such technological transfers among terror groups, it is even more critical that developed nations assist developing countries in combating terrorism by making available the best possible technological help. Just as terror groups work together to further their deadly goals, countries too must now work together to defeat terrorism.

I also welcome the reference in Section 7 of the draft which stresses the need for coordination between members in fields of organized crime, illegal drug trafficking and terrorism.  We must join hands to ensure our countries are not used by unscrupulous elements to raise funds or procure illegal arms and ammunition to cause death and destruction elsewhere. We should set in place stringent and robust mechanisms to curb such activities.

For us in developing countries, the fight against poverty is just as important.  Just as the “One Size Fits All” type of globalization has intensified the level of under-development and poverty in many countries, we cannot reject globalization outright. Globalization used within the context of the needs and aspirations of each country can bring about many benefits and can be effectively used as a tool in fighting poverty. However, in the fight against poverty, we must also remember that transparency and eradication of corruption are important factors that are just as important.

In this era of unilateral confrontations and interventionism, it’s important more than ever for the Non-Aligned Movement to be seen as a bastion of moderation. NAM must not be seen, as our detractors would, a mere forum for anti-first world rhetoric and we should have the courage of our convictions to face up to extremism in all its manifestations while upholding the increasingly rare principles of moderation and impartiality.

Last but not least, Mr. Chairman, I would like to take this opportunity to wish your great President Fidel Castro, who has been a great political icon and a tremendous inspiration for our generation, good health and further strength to continue his dynamic leadership of your beautiful country.  Thank you.

15th September, 2006

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