Sri Lanka Army

Defender of the Nation

Published on - 8/4/2008

SAARC Consensus on Key Issues

FOOD AND ENERGY security, terrorism, climate change, water, poverty alleviation get top billing

A productive and fruitful 15th 'Heads of State' SAARC summit was concluded at the BMICH in Colombo yesterday, with high priority and strong focus laid on taking collective action to confront Food and Energy Hikes in the region as well as the scourge of terrorism.

The Colombo Declaration on the basis of 'Partnership for Growth for Our People' was also considered and adopted.

On reaching consensus on several issues by the Heads of State, Foreign Ministers of the respective countries also inked the Agreements on the; a) Charter of SAARC Development Fund (SDF)

b) Agreement on the Establishment of South Asian Regional Standards Organisation (SARSO); SAARC Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and the Protocol on Accession of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the Agreement on South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA).

They also agreed to host the 16th Summit meeting of the SAARC Heads of State in the Maldives in 2009.

Addressing the media at the end of the Summit at the BMICH, President Mahinda Rajapaksa underscored the prime importance of economic and commercial cooperation in the region.

Outlining the global ramifications of reduced food availability in turn leading to high prices, and increasing energy costs, if not addressed to, he said, would reverse the progress and the development achieved by the respective governments.

He opined that in the field of Energy, we should strive to develop alternative and renewable sources of energy, and make the necessary reforms in increasing energy efficiency, transferring technology and in energy trading.

The Energy Ministers of the SAARC countries are due to meet in Colombo next year to pursue this matter further.

“In the field of energy, we have decided that our approach will be built on several pillars. Firstly, we shall try to develop and conserve conventional sources of energy.

Secondly, there will be a strong focus on alternative and renewable energy sources, including hydro-power, solar, wind and bio,” he added.

President Rajapaksa also underscored the importance of combatting global terrorism, a menace particularly rampant in the region which if not eradicated, would affect the region's stability and security.

“It is in recognition of this reality, that we have ensured the signature at this summit of the Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. We have condemned all forms of terrorist violence, and emphasized that our States should firmly cooperate, especially through the exchange of information on terrorism and organised crime”, President Rajapaksa reiterated.

He stressed the importance of implementing the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) in both letter and in spirit, accompanied by the resolution of the non-tariff barriers within the region, which result in the dilution of the benefits derived.

He said that as a far-sighted SAARC project to unite the youth of the region, they have directed the South Asian University in New Delhi to commence its first session in 2010.

(Courtesy: Daily News)