Statement by Hon. Tharaka Balasuriya, State Minister of Regional Cooperation of Sri Lanka to the 27th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Meeting on 12th September 2020.

Your Excellency Phạm Bình Minh
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam

Excellencies and distinguished delegates,

It is my privilege to address the 27th ASEAN Regional Forum representing Sri Lanka. At the outset I would like to congratulate Viet Nam for its able leadership as the Chairman of the 27th ARF. I also take this opportunity to thank the Government of Viet Nam for holding this meeting today, virtually.

Sri Lanka has been a committed Participant of ASEAN Regional Forum since 2007 and commends the role of ARF as a proponent of peace, stability and prosperity in the region. Sri Lanka upholds the values of constructive dialogue, consultation and cooperation by all member states in maintaining peace and security in the region.

Excellencies and distinguished delegates,

Having originated as a public health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has also developed into a global economic crisis, with severe and potentially lasting impact on economic activity, employment and trade. Sri Lanka as an island nation took swift preventive measures at the national level, with well-networked, multi stakeholder contact tracing mechanism and a robust health care system. In this manner, Sri Lanka, had faced the situation successfully.

The countries in the region face the uphill task of economic recovery and rebuilding the livelihood of its citizens in the aftermath of the global pandemic. Achieving prosperity and promoting a people centric economic development plan is key.

Excellencies and distinguished delegates,

The issues our countries face are no longer confined to the geographical boundaries of a respective country. As we live in difficult times characterized by traditional and non-traditional security issues, Sri Lanka rests importance to collective commitment to the regional stability and recovery, practical security cooperation, maritime and cyber security, counter terrorism and transnational crimes and non-proliferation and disarmament. In this context, I reiterate that the future direction of ARF must strive to achieve these objectives through an all-inclusive approach.

Excellencies and distinguished delegates,

Misuse of Information and communication technology (ICT) presents one of the most critical modern challenges to global security. Sri Lanka believes that there is an urgent need for cooperation among states to mitigate threats such as cybercrime, cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure.

Cognizant of these circumstances, Sri Lanka has prepared at present a new Cyber Security Act with a view to take control of the cyber security command when the country is in a state of an emergency situation. Sri Lanka endorses the draft statement on cooperation in the field of security in the use of ICTs in the context of developing a digital economy.

Excellencies and distinguished delegates,

ARF’s efforts in countering terrorism and transnational crimes through this regional framework are encouraging. Sri Lanka is of the view that when tackling these problems, remedies by single country is not sufficient, but collective mechanism is needed to fight against these transnational crimes. In this regard sharing expertise, intelligence and best practices and technology is important.

Excellencies and distinguished delegates,

I take this opportunity to reiterate on the plethora of activities conducted through the broad structure of the ARF. Sri Lanka welcomes the Ha Noi Plan of Action II which is to be implemented through the years 2020-2025.

Sri Lanka stands steady to actively participate in the ARF. We are confident that the ARF will continue to engage constructively to embark upon addressing multifaceted challenges in our collective commitment to global peace, stability and prosperity.

Thank you.

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