“The Reconciliation Process in Sri Lanka” Remarks by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, London
Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, MP
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka
The Royal Institute of International Affairs, London
Wednesday 11 January 2017
The Reconciliation Process in Sri Lanka
Mr. Chairman, Professor Jonathan Goodhand,
High Commissioner for Sri Lanka, Mrs. Amari Wijewardena,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is indeed an honour to speak at the historic Chatham House today, as one of the first speakers in the New Year. May I also take this opportunity to congratulate all of you at the Royal Institute of International Affairs for being chosen as the, “Think tank of the year by Prospect Magazine” which commended your work as “Reliably excellent” and a “Gold Standard of knowledge and professionalism”.
The topic on which I speak today – ‘The Reconciliation Process in Sri Lanka’, in fact holds special significance for us Sri Lankans this week. This is because, the Cabinet of Ministers recently declared this week, from January 8thto the 14th, as the ‘National Integration and Reconciliation Week’. This coincides with the completion of two years since the historic Presidential election of January 8th 2015, and this is the first occasion on which this annual National Integration and Reconciliation Week is being observed in my country.
As one of the main features of this Observance, on 9th January, in schools and state institutions including in Parliament, a Pledge for National Integration and Reconciliation was read out,
-resolving to work together, hand in hand, while respecting the richness of our diversity, to foster peace, understanding, mutual trust, and brotherhood; a new Sri Lanka united in it’s diversity.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Several of my predecessors too have spoken here at the Chatham House. This includes the late Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar who spoke at length here, in 1998, about the danger faced by our nation at the time, and democratic societies everywhere, from terrorism.
Almost twenty years later, I feel fortunate to be here representing a country where the guns and the bombs have finally fallen silent.
Although the violence ended in May 2009, the healing of wounds of over two decades of conflict, achieving reconciliation and national integration, catching up on economic progress and development that eluded us due to conflict, and ensuring non-recurrence, remain challenging tasks for our Nation. Similarly, the tasks of improving governance, institutions, rule of law, and putting in place necessary measures to strengthen, promote and protect individual rights; while ensuring the dignity of all and building a truly national identity while preserving our pluralistic society – remain work in progress.