Sunday, July 27, 2008

Terrorism, food security, energy top agenda

The 15th SAARC Summit which got off the ground in Colombo yesterday is set to adopt a series of measures with the main focus on a joint approach to combating terrorism, maximising energy and water resources, food security, poverty alleviation in addition to several other key issues concerning the region.

Addl.Secretary to the Foreign Ministry cum Media spokesman for SAARC Prasad Kariyawasam addressing the media after the first day's deliberations said that the intention of the programming committee meeting which is set to continue today as well was to prepare the groundwork for the upcoming Foreign Ministers and Heads of State meetings.

Kariyawasam added that the programming committee would mainly focus on the twin issues of evaluating progress made since the last summit and introducing new vistas accordingly and preparation of the SAARC Declaration.

The SAARC Declaration which would focus on the above mentioned issues in addition to several other key issues concerning the region is to be agreed and adopted by the leaders at the end of the Summit after careful deliberation.

Also according to Kariyawasam deliberations would focus on meaningful ways to uphold this year's SAARC theme "Partnership for Our People". Thus SAARC would deliberate regarding practical and meaningful ways to propel the vision of growth for our people through partnership, Kariyawasam said.

Kariyawasam said that the leaders had realized that SAARC had to evolve into a more people centered organisation and thus this year's theme was a progression from last year's theme of connectivity.

He further noted that in comparison to other such regional gatherings SAARC's progress in a relatively shorter span was very encouraging and said it was on the threshold of greater prosperity on both economic and social fronts through enhanced co-operation.

Also during its 15th Summit SAARC is set to adopt four agreements such as SAARC Development Fund, South Asian Standards Co-ordination, South Asian Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters and Protocol of Afghanistan's accession to SAFTA.

In addition the economic, social and technical cooperation among the countries of South Asia is to be considered as a factor, which would contribute significantly to national and collective self-reliance.;

In addition several key issues pertaining to the progress of members and the region are slated for deliberation and discussion which could open up new vistas in regional cooperation.

A noteworthy aspect of the last Summit held in India was the 30 point declaration made by the Heads of States which covered areas of crucial importance to the SAARC membership. Some of the important areas of the declaration have a bearing on key connective instruments of SAARC.

This is inevitable since there has to be back up organs not only to formulate particular policies based on the decisions taken by the leaders but also to implement such policy.

Thus the 15th SAARC summit is expected to carry progress from that point onwards - in other words the implementation of the different proposals is what is most relevant and practical to SAARC.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) comprising eight countries of South Asia, i.e. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka first came to be according to an idea mooted in May 1980 by then Bangladesh President Ziaur Rahman.

The Foreign Secretaries of seven countries in South Asia met for the first time in Colombo in April 1981 and identified five broad areas for regional cooperation.

Next After a series of meetings the Foreign Ministers met in New Delhi in 1983 where they adopted the Declaration on South Asian Regional Cooperation (SARC).

During the next two years South Asian nations committed themselves to form this South Asian alliance and the process culminated in the First SAARC Summit held on 7-8 December in 1985 in Dhaka where the Heads of State or Government of seven countries, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka adopted the Charter formally establishing the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

Moreover, the cooperation of the SAARC is also based on broader principles of respect for the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, non-interference in internal affairs of the Member States and on mutual benefit. The highest authority of the Association rests with the Heads of State or Government.

The SAARC Charter provides that the Heads of State or Government shall meet once a year or more often as and when considered necessary by the Member States. The country which hosts the summit holds the Chair of the Association. Thus Sri Lanka will hold the Chair for the next year.

Courtesy: Daily News

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