Elimination of Terrorism will not be stopped - Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama
By Walter Jayawardhana
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said there is no truth in the statement of the United National Party that after the Provincial Council elections in North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provinces the war to eliminate terrorism will be stopped.
"We showed that terrorism could be eliminated from the country’s Eastern Province and similarly we will eliminate terrorism in the Northern Province and bring back democracy to the citizens of the area they once enjoyed", he said in a television interview conducted with him by the state owned Independent Television Network and broadcast Tuesday night.
He rejected there was any foreign pressure to stop the war with the terrorists and said during the South Asian summit just concluded in Colombo there was nothing but unprecedented cooperation from all the neighboring countries of Sri Lanka to eliminate terrorism from the country and bring back democracy to the deprived masses.
He said to show solidarity; Foreign ministers have visited Chief Minister Pillaiyan of the Eastern Province and learned the truth about the ground situation.
He said as the foreign minister of the country he had to work overtime to undo the “status of parity” UNP leader Ranil Wickramasingha had created for the Government of Sri Lanka with the terrorist group the Liberation of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Bogollagama said if not for the infamous Ceasefire Agreemnt the fight to eliminate terrorism would not have taken such a long time. He said it took a tremendously longer time to come to the gates of Kilinochchi and Mulativu than usual, thanks to the obstacles created by Ranil Wickramasinghe. He said the government was strongly of the opinion, despite the lies, when the final votes are counted it would be definitely against those who promoted terrorism by approving infamous demarcating lines through equally infamous Ceasefire Agreements.
Bogollagama said statements such as of those who like Secretary Boucher of the US clearly indicate that how the international community was giving every encouragement to the government of Sri Lanka to eliminate terrorism from the precious island nation. He vividly described the progressive steps they took by banning not only bogus charities who helped the coffers of the Tamil Tigers but also how they sent arms buyers into jail by now famous sting operations. He said it was not possible for him to give minute details of how countries give innumerable support to crush terrorism in Sri Lanka due to diplomatic constraints the country should observe.
He said the anti-terrorism measures all regional countries signed for at the SAARC summit in Colombo hereinafter would not only allow a terrorist of one country to take refuge in another country of the region as it happened before but those measures would bring far reaching result and would bring doom to such outfits like the LTTE.
He said Australia is not a member but an observer of the SAARC and the high commendation by Australia about the anti-terrorism measures adopted by the summit were failed to be seen by our own country’s opposition who were on a disastrous political course of condemning the South Asian summit.
Bogollagama, being interviewed by Gayan Chinthaka Abeysinghe, of the Independent Television Network (ITN) further said some countries in the region have called terrorism as the 'single biggest threat to our stability.'
Bogollagama said the South Asian summit became a heavy body blow to the efforts of the United National Party who have been on a ruinous but futile course to internationally isolate Sri Lanka and shouting from their roof tops that the most important country, India would not even attend the leaders meeting. But the Indian leader Dr. Manmohan Singh spent three days in the country and the Indian Foreign Minister spent five days in the country, Bogollagama said. It was very important for the country to have all the eight leaders of the region in Colombo, the Foreign Minister emphasized.
He said it was also important that Pakistan and India chose Colombo to meet each other and Pakistan and Afghanistan chose our capital to meet each other heralding to the world that Sri Lanka is a center for international understanding, goodwill and peace.
The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister said the numerous benefits that would be brought to the people of Sri Lanka by the SAARC summit would be undoubtedly immense. He said, for instance, one should see the huge unprecedented market the SAARC has opened up for the Sri Lankan products.
He said one should compare the market of 450 million people in the European Union with that of 1200 million people in India to know the immenseness of the new vistas the South Asian union is opening up for Sri Lanka. The Agreement of South Asian Free Trade (SAFTA) has opened up the market of the world’s biggest region of 1500 million people of the eight countries of South Asia to the Sri Lankan products in addition to the Free Trade Agreements the country has signed with India and Pakistan, the foreign minister emphasized. If Sri Lanka could expand our sales to the Indian market for Sri Lanka’s apparel products, for instance, it would be slightly less than three times of the European market, Bogollagama pointed out.
The United National Party belittled the SAARC to be less important like a village level organization. But the SAARC Development Fund would open up a vast fund of 30,000 million dollars to releive funds for development in every rural areas of the country. The underwater electricity cable is also proposed not to stop develop our own energy resources, but to obtain excess cheap energy for our use from neighbors. Through that grid, one day we would be even buy electricity from Bhutan , which is producing electricity in plenty by their hydraulic power stations , the minister said.
The SAARC University would be open for our own students in 2010 and the main campus is being already being built close to New Delhi by India. Another campus will be built in Sri Lanka too and the regional university would be able to create a seat of learning that would produce intellectuals who would think in terms of the region’s development. He said the Indian Prime Minister is of the opinion that we should elevate the institution to the standard of the Ivy league universities of the United States, Bogollagama said. Today India is leading the region by being able to give birth to a knowledge economy like in the IT field. Small countries like Sri Lanka would benefit immensely by following in those foot steps, the Sri Lanka Foreign minister said.
Another method the United National Party wanted to implement was to isolate Sri Lanka by making the press boycott the summit. But defeating those efforts and not listening politically motivated organizations nearly 600 reporters covered the event, Bogollagama said.
Answering questions, the foreign minister said Katchathivu, is an integral part of Sri Lanka like Colombo, Matara, Galle or Kandy. He said the Indian government has had no communication with Colombo on Katchathivu and it was a slogan by certain South Indian politicians raised for their own political ends.
Bogollagama said, before the summit a big cry over security has been raised by the United National Party and a concern about the safety of the leaders. He said during a UNP regime Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assaulted with a rifle butt during a guard of honor creating a big blot for the country. But he reminded, during the SAARC summit not even a fly was allowed to rest on any leader!
- Asian Tribune -