July 14, Colombo: Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha on Wednesday (10 July) conveyed Sri Lanka's appreciation for the support and solidarity extended by the Commonwealth membership and the Secretary-General in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday tragedy, and called for greater focus in countering violent extremism within the Commonwealth.
Welcoming the 'Christchurch Call Initiative' which reaffirms the importance of addressing threats posed by terrorism and violent extremism online and commits countries and online service providers to work together to tackle them, the Foreign Secretary commended the adoption of the Commonwealth Cyber Declaration with members' commitment to a peaceful and secure internet, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The Foreign Secretary made these observations, when he, representing Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana, led the Sri Lanka delegation to the 19th Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers' Meeting (CFAMM) held in London last week, as the member countries celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Commonwealth at Marlborough House in London.
The Meeting was chaired by the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jeremy Hunt and the Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Lord Tariq Ahmed of Wimbledon, as the Chair in office. The opening remarks were delivered by the Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland QC.
Welcoming the Commonwealth's agenda on sustainable development and the adoption of the Commonwealth Blue Charter on clean ocean governance and sustainable marine industries, the Secretary said Sri Lanka as the 'Champion' of the Mangrove Ecosystem Livelihood Action Group under the Commonwealth Blue Charter, looked forward to hosting the first Mangrove Action Group meeting in Sri Lanka later this year.
He reiterated Sri Lanka's commitment to sustainable development through its Blue-Green Development Strategy 2016 and said Sri Lanka was dedicating a forest area in the Trincomalee District in honor of The Queen's Commonwealth Canopy (QCC) Initiative, where the project aims to restore the area into a natural forest cover.
Foreign Secretary Aryasinha in his remarks also reaffirmed Sri Lanka's commitment to the Commonwealth and its principles, and as a founder member of the Commonwealth, welcomed the adoption of the 70th Anniversary Affirmation by the membership. Sri Lanka also welcomed the implementation of Key CHOGM 2018 mandates, especially in supporting the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, intra-Commonwealth connectivity and trade.
The Secretary noted that Sri Lanka looks forward to hosting the Commonwealth Law Ministers' Meeting in Colombo in November 2019, and welcomed its support of the Commonwealth Peace at the Crease initiative.
The Foreign Secretary also commended the Secretary-General for her continued commitment to further the Commonwealth objectives.
Sri Lanka also extended its support for the readmission of the Maldives to the Commonwealth, and requested consideration of the 'fast track procedure' for readmission.
The Foreign Secretary also participated in the Global Conference on Media Freedom which was co-hosted by Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, and UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and held on 10-11 July 2019 on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Foreign Minister's Meeting in London.
The Sri Lanka delegation accompanying the Foreign Secretary included, High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Manisha Gunasekera, Counsellor (Commonwealth and Political) of the Sri Lanka High Commission in London Abdul Haleem, and Assistant Director, Europe & Central Asia of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Thakshila Arnolda.