President tells WORLD LEADERS at UN : Slow, steady path can restore religious, communal harmony

President Maithripala Sirisena addressing the 72nd Sessions of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday. Picture by Sudath Silva. (See page 05)

Drawing from experience, lessons learned to strengthen national reconciliation:

Emphasises need to adhere to Paris Protocol on Climate Change:

President Maithripala Sirisena called upon the international community to seriously consider the tremendous progress made by his government towards reconciliation, restoration of democratic freedom, human rights and the rule of law.

The President addressing the 72nd Sessions of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday said the slow and steady path is the most suitable one to restore religious and communal harmony.

The President reiterated that that haste will not yield good results but slow and steady path is the most suitable one to restore religious and communal harmony so that people of all communities could live in peace and harmony as equal citizens.

President Sirisena was among the few world leaders to address the UN General Assembly on the opening day. US President Donald Trump was also addressed the UN General Assembly. This was the third time that President Maithripala Sirisena addressed the UN General Assembly after winning the Presidential Election held in January 2015.

President Maithripala Sirisena called upon the international community to extend their fullest support to the slow, but the steady forward march of Sri Lanka to build a progressive, democratic, free and equal society with high morals and discipline considering the tremendous progress made by the government towards reconciliation, restoration of democratic freedoms, human rights and the rule of law.

Addressing the world leaders in Sinhala, the President said that during the last two and a half years, the government has taken several important steps that are necessary for consolidating democracy, freedom, good governance, and the rule of law.

“Through such transformative steps, we have laid the foundation necessary to forge national reconciliation, and ensure non-recurrence of conflict in our country,” he said.

“As a country that has suffered violent conflict for 30 years, we are drawing from experience and lessons learned to strengthen national reconciliation, and we are determined to prevent the recurrence of conflict. We have given priority in this context to consolidate freedom and democracy in our country, and through a strong foundation of national reconciliation forged through unity and friendship among communities,” the President said.

President Sirisena stressed that the vision of the government is to ensure sustained economic development through the increase of domestic agriculture and industry under environment friendly policies and programmes. He emphasised the imperative need to adhere to the Paris Protocol on Climate Change for the sake of the future of the human beings as well as flora and fauna.

Pointing out that poverty is presented a serious challenge throughout the world, he said that year 2017 has been declared as the year for poverty alleviation in Sri Lanka and have prioritised economic development. “We have initiated a ‘Grama Shakthi’ programme to empower villages and to give prominence to putting in place the necessary requirements for addressing all the problems faced by the people of the country.

President Sirisena called on the world leaders to take a collective action for eradication of narcotic drugs. He said he wanted to draw the attention of the respected General Assembly of the United Nations to the problem of drugs that poses a serious threat to human society itself, preying on young children and causing much destruction to communities.Such a programme must include plans and efforts to combat this menace at national level in all countries, and at international level, he said. The President explained the successful efforts made by the government to lessen the foreign debt burden and usher in economic revival and sought the support of the world community to the efforts made by Sri Lanka for economic development.

Pointing out that Sri Lanka as a member of the UN for the last 62 years adhered to the UN conventions, policies and principles, he said that the nation requires the patient, understanding and support for its slow, but steady march to create a peaceful and prosperous country for its people.

The General Debate was opened with a focus on the theme, ‘Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet’. The 72nd United Nations General Assembly is due to be held at the UN Headquarters in New York until September 23.

The President will conclude his six-day official visit on September 23. 

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