The anniversary of the 66th Independence Day of Sri Lanka is an opportune moment for us to reflect with a sense of satisfaction on the many accomplishments the country has achieved within a brief span of time.
As a country, we are proud of the significant progress that has been made since the defeat of terrorism four years ago, and our people are enjoying peace in a united Sri Lanka.
During the past several years, an extraordinary development drive has been undertaken by the government.
Numerous mega development programs are being implemented with the construction of harbors, airports and roads, bringing economic development to rural areas and connecting them to the larger economic development of the country.
The government is committed to ensuring that the opportunities gained by society as a result of these developments are available to all communities, across the country, for the upliftment and betterment of their lives.
In the Northern Province, free elections have been held after many years; bringing communities into the political process for the first time; internally displaced people have been able to return to their homes and have been reunited with their families; and fishing, agriculture, and a multitude of other industries have been reinvigorated to provide livelihood opportunities for people.
The National Action Plan and the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission are being implemented steadily and substantial resources are being allocated to ensure their objectives. A national policy is underway to transform the country into a trilingual society.
The policy framework of the Government, “Mahinda Chintana: Vision for the future”, is steadfast in guiding our development efforts and harnessing the tremendous potential of Sri Lanka, and is helping to revolutionize the country to emerge as a regional hub in aviation, commerce, maritime affairs and knowledge.
With these developments, increasing linkages and strong growth; Sri Lanka is a world class travel destination poised to move toward being an upper middle income country. The climate of peace and stability which is now prevailing in the country is an essential condition for this enhanced economic activity.
Sri Lanka continues to have a strong vibrant foreign policy and healthy relations in the global arena, guided by principles of nonalignment and friendship with all.
We are steadily expanding our diplomatic relations with a large number of countries and opening new diplomatic missions in different parts of the globe; deepening our ties of friendship amongst the international community of nations.
On the international stage, Sri Lanka hosted the 23rd Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November 2013 and will serve as the Chair in Office of the Commonwealth for the next two years.
This significant event was a great opportunity for world leaders to see the tremendous progress and unprecedented post-conflict developments taking place in Sri Lanka.
At this time, I express my gratitude to the expatriate Sri Lankan community that has continued to contribute to the economic and social development of the country.
On the occasion of our National Day, let us rededicate ourselves to intensify collectively our commitment toward supporting our motherland in our challenges ahead, in order to lead the country toward a brighter future.
Prof. G.L. Peiris
Minister of External Affairs