Introductory Remarks by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera for the Keynote Address by Director General of UNESCO Irina Bokova
Mangala Samaraweera, MP., Minister of Foreign Affairs
for the Keynote Address by Mme. Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO
16th August 2016
Ladies and gentlemen,
I feel most honored today to have the opportunity of introducing to you Mme. Irina Bokova, the Director General of UNESCO, who has so generously accepted our invitation to deliver this Keynote Lecture at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies. Thank you Mme. Bokova, we warmly welcome you to Sri Lanka, and to this Institute.
Madam Bokova’s keynote speech today will be on the very timely and interesting topic of “Soft Power for peace and development: UNESCO and the Sustainable Development Goals”.
This Institute, as you know, is named after one of my predecessors, Lakshman Kadirgamar, who held the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1994 to 2000; 2000 to 2001; and from 2004 to 2005, until he succumbed to the bullets of a terrorist. He was a much respected and much loved Foreign Minister who yearned to see peace and reconciliation in our country.
Although he called himself a citizen of the world, he had the highest appreciation and respect for the beliefs, customs and traditions of others. Yearning to see his dream of ‘unity in diversity’ become a reality in Sri Lanka, he said:
“I believe that all our peoples can live together, they did live together. I think they must learn to live together after this trauma is over. I see no reason why the major races in this country, the Tamils, Sinhalese and the Muslims cannot again build a relationship of confidence and trust. That is my belief. That is what I wished for and in working for that I will not be deterred.…”.
Lakshman, unfortunately, did not live to see the day the guns fell silent in our country, or the day the Sustainable Development Goals were adopted. He was a firm believer of the principles UNESCO and the persuasive approach to durable peace, progress and development.