President Maithripala Sirisena, addressing the Indian Ocean Rim Association Leaders’ Summit (IORA) suggested working out a stable legal order to confront the issue of illicit drugs, in accordance with the principles of the freedom of navigation.
“I suggest IORA to work out a stable legal order to confront these concerns in the conformity. It is universally recognised that all littoral states possess a maritime area bordering their coasts within which they exercise complete authority. However, beyond this limit comprise the high seas which are not subject to the jurisdiction of any state. Most of the illicit drugs are smuggled into the country from the sea beyond the territorial waters,” he said.
As an island nation Sri Lanka has always had a firm interest in the Indian Ocean region. In this context, IORA has been a key initiative in strengthening Sri Lanka’s cooperation within this region, and in further reaping the true benefits from the Indian Ocean, the President further asserted.
The National Unity Government of Sri Lanka has undertaken measures to restore the country’s position in the Indian Ocean region with a clear manifestation to enter the global value chain by becoming the regional hub for trade, tourism, transport and logistics, he added.
The following is the full text of the statement made by President Sirisenaat the IORA Leaders’ Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia yesterday.
I am pleased to attend the first ever IORA Leader’s Summit to mark the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Indian Ocean Rim Association in the beautiful city of Jakarta.
I thank the Government of the Republic of Indonesia for the excellent arrangements made for the summit. I also wish to convey our sincere appreciation for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to me and my delegation.
On this historic occasion, Sri Lanka wishes to commend the active role played by Indonesia as the Chair of the IORA, and the initiative taken to bring together the leaders of the IORA member countries to celebrate this important occasion and to further promote the objectives of IORA in the interest of the region.
I wish to acknowledge the dynamic role played by the past Chairs, India and Australia. I also wish to welcome South Africa, the new Chair, on this occasion.
IORA has come a long way since its beginning in 1997 in developing a framework for a comprehensive method to enhance regional cooperation.
The notable progress that IORA has achieved during the past 20 years indicates the solidarity and the commitment by the member states in collective efforts. Sri Lanka is proud to be a member of this association.
The theme for this summit, ‘Strengthening Maritime Cooperation for a Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous Indian Ocean’ is indeed a timely and relevant one.
During the past years, as a group, we have been able to join together to create a much needed, positive advancement within the region in many of the areas, especially in maritime cooperation and utilise the resources of the Indian Ocean in a responsible and sustainable manner.
We should continue our efforts to strengthen existing cooperation and build on enhancing our inter-regional relations. In this context, it is also necessary to initiate a dialogue between SAARC and ASEAN leaders.
As our current Chair, Indonesia is also a member of the ASEAN, it may be useful to consider initiating a dialogue, linking IORA member states, its dialogue partners and all the interested major and middle powers.
It is in our interest to ensure the safety and security of the Indian Ocean and its lanes of communications, and establish by consent of the people involved, an agreement for a peaceful maritime security space, and strengthen maritime security cooperation for our mutual benefit. The Indian Ocean region has become one of the fastest growing regional economies in the world. In this context, IORA remains a logical forum for its member states in dealing with current issues and challenges in the region.
While focusing on the economic advantages, it is also necessary to examine the dangers that set off from the oceans such as maritime terrorism and piracy.
Ladies and Gentlemen, another very important matter I wish to bring to your attention is the trafficking of illicit drugs by sea which has become a sort of industry. Although various countertrafficking measures have been implemented, there is no satisfactory end result.
It is universally recognised that all littoral states possess a maritime area bordering their coasts within which they exercise complete authority. However, beyond this limit comprise the high seas which are not subject to the jurisdiction of any state. Most of the illicit drugs are smuggled into the country from the sea beyond the territorial waters.
I suggest IORA work out a stable legal order to confront these concerns in conformity with the principles of the freedom of navigation.
Today, we are here to endorse the IORA Concord and Action Plan with the aim of further strengthening IORA’s role as an active forum for dialogue.
Sri Lanka being an island nation has always had a firm interest in the Indian Ocean region. In this context, IORA has undoubtedly been a key initiative in strengthening Sri Lanka’s cooperation within this region, and in further reaping the true benefits from the Indian Ocean.
The National Unity Government of Sri Lanka has undertaken measures to restore our position in the Indian Ocean Region, with a clear manifestation to enter the global value chain by becoming the regional hub for trade, tourism, transport and logistics.
Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to conclude my remarks by restating the importance of this gathering today. I hope this meeting will confront challenges that are associated with maritime security issues and review the ongoing programs of cooperation.
I hope our deliberations will be successful in identifying possible ways of achieving the expected progress with a view to providing and uplifting the lives of the people of our region.
I am confident that the outcome of this summit will transform into tangible policies to further strengthen regional cooperation and enhance peace, security and prosperity.