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Statement by Deputy Foreign Minister at the High Level Conference of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, 4 June 2015

Statement by Hon. Ajith P. Perera, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka,
at the High Level Conference of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on ‘Security and Stability in the Region of SCO’
4th June 2015, Moscow

His Excellency Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
Secretary General Mr. Dmitry Mezentsev,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honoured to participate in this High Level Conference on ‘Security and Stability in the Region of SCO’ on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka. I take this opportunity to thank the Russian Federation for the excellent arrangements in organising this event.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) will be fifteen years old next year. Since its inception in 2001, the SCO has emerged as an important regional organisation providing a useful platform for promoting dialogue and cooperation in maintaining peace, security and stability in the region. It has also enabled multifaceted cooperation for Member States on a range of fields, including politics, economics, science and technology, education, energy, transportation, and tourism.

Today, more than ever, it is imperative for the international community to meet global and regional challenges through concerted action. The SCO endeavours to play such a role in securing peace and security and sustainable development, combating terrorism and trans-national organised crime, and advancing regional cooperation through mutual trust. Such action would guarantee peace and tranquility in a vast area of the globe covering Europe and Asia.

Though not contiguous in territory with the SCO Member States, Sri Lanka has from time immemorial enjoyed strong historical, cultural and economic ties with many of the Member States, Observers and Dialogue Partners of the SCO. We have followed with keen interest the growth and development of the Organisation, while recognising and subscribing to its main goals, principles and actions.

We have continued our cooperation with the Member States of the SCO, particularly with a view to strengthening peace and security, and in combating terrorism in all its manifestations, while sharing our considerable experience and expertise in the latter. Having been a victim of terrorism for almost three decades, Sri Lanka was fortunate enough to be able to eliminate the scourge from its soil through robust and concerted action. The many manifestations of terrorism, links among terrorist groups, and terrorist financing remain grave challenges to regional and global security and stability. In this regard, we particularly welcome the work of the SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS).

New security challenges that we face today, including illegal migration, human trafficking, drug trafficking, trans-national organised crime and cyber-terrorism, constitute serious threats to regional and global security. Sri Lanka has recently become a victim of drug trafficking, with the country being used by drug syndicates as a destination as well as a transit point. Our law enforcement authorities are redoubling their efforts to combat this menace. But more concerted action with regional and international support is needed towards which the Government is fully committed. We believe that the SCO can play a vital role in successfully tackling these new threats.

Distinguished Delegates,

Sri Lanka is pleased to see development and economic cooperation remain a priority on the SCO agenda. This will greatly contribute towards stimulating socio-economic prosperity in the region. As agreed by the Member States, there is much potential for expanding practical cooperation in investment, finance and banking, science and technology, innovation, energy and customs, as well as in agriculture, information technology, transport, logistics and telecommunications.

In this backdrop, Sri Lanka welcomes the convening of this High Level Conference which has provided us with a timely opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from one another in the region in cooperating to meet current challenges. Sri Lanka firmly believes that the only way to resolve common threats is through cooperation and collective action of all nations, including those of us in the SCO region.

Sri Lanka, as a Dialogue Partner, is happy to maintain its productive and cordial engagement with the SCO. Having applied for Observer status in the SCO which is currently under consideration, Sri Lanka remains ready to play a more active role in the Organization in the future. In this regard, we welcome the SCO exploring greater avenues for cooperation with Observers and Dialogue Partners.

In conclusion, I take this opportunity to thank the Russian Federation for its successful steering of the SCO under its Presidency. I also wish the Membership all success in taking forward the mandate of the SCO, including the convening of the next Meeting of the Council of Heads of State in the Russian City of Ufa on 9 July this year.

Thank you