“Sri Lanka wishes to see the Indian Ocean Rim Association move into a new era of dynamism”- Foreign Minister Samaraweera
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera called for the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) to move into a new era of dynamism, when he addressed the 16th Council of Ministers Meeting (CoMM) of IORA held on 27th October 2016 in Bali, Indonesia.
In his address, the Foreign Minister stated that it was necessary for IORA and the members to take collective steps to ensure the security of the Indian Ocean, including the freedom of navigation, aviation and adherence to international law including UNCLOS, enhance scientific and academic cooperation amongst IORA members, protect, preserve and use ocean resources sustainably guided by international law and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, eenhance preparedness to deal with ocean based disasters and un-assessed impact of climate change on ocean weather, establish mechanism for development finance within IORA and expand and broad base IORA’s partners for more intense and meaningful cooperation.
Speaking further, Foreign Minister Samaraweera also stated that Sri Lanka has been focusing on the Blue Economy due to the economic potential it offers and the availability of aquatic resources, and observed that blue economy-related initiatives have the potential to uplift the economic conditions of the people.
Moving on to the many developments that are currently taking place across the world, the Minister pointed out to the need to measure the progress made so far by IORA, in order to chart a course for greater regional collaboration. In this context, he stated that sharing experiences in joint projects and technical co-operation amongst IORA states in order to ensure the sustainable use of the ocean resources would be useful.
Minister Samaraweera also stated that Sri Lanka is co-hosting the Second Water Working Group meeting and Ocean Forecasting Workshop to Build Capacity for Indian Ocean Operational System, in Colombo, in mid-November this year, which was also in line with Sri Lanka’s commitment to strengthen the cooperation with IORA.
Noting the progress made in the areas of economic empowerment of women and the institutional strengthening of the IORA, the Foreign Minister added that on the eve of IORA’s 20th Anniversary in 2017 and the proposed Leader’s Summit in 2017, Sri Lanka was keen to further enhance its role in IORA. He also called for a more meaningful engagement of IORA’s dialogue partners in a constructive manner and to further explore mechanisms to encourage more interaction and participation among the stakeholders.