President attends Commonwealth Heads meeting in Sri Lanka
Georgetown, GINA, November 15, 2013
President Donald Ramotar joined other Heads of State and Government representatives in Sri Lanka today for the opening ceremony of the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre in Colombo.
The Guyanese Head of State and First Lady Deolatchmee Ramotar were seen greeting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaska who assumed duties as the Chairman of the Summit.
Under the theme ‘Growth with Equity: Inclusive Development’, the high level meeting will conclude on November 17.
According to Secretary General of the Commonwealth Kamalesh Sharma at the opening ceremony today, the meeting’s agenda will address; debt management, solvency and resilience in small member states; Climate finance for small and vulnerable states; practical trade measures to help increase exports, including finance and advocacy that can help shape the global trade agenda; unlocking the potential for member governments to assist each other directly, giving fuller meaning to the notion of our commonwealth; a proposed Commonwealth Plan for Broadband Inclusion among others.
President Mahinda Rajapaska of Sri Lanka welcomes President Ramotar and First Lady Deolatchmee Ramotar at the opening of the CHOGM 2013 ( Pic courtesy CHOGM website)
“Deep awareness that our destinies are joined drives us forward in seeking together for practical solutions to the many great tasks before the Commonwealth, and the world at large. In these times of flux and rapid alteration, a shared vision of our collective striving and resolve are needed more than ever. That is the role of all CHOGMs – to bring us closer as a family and to move us forward together. We turn to our heads gathered here to lead us forward in that spirit and purpose. We are the world’s North, South, East and West. And we illustrate to the wider world that the Commonwealth closes the distance between them,” Sharma said.
Prince Charles who is standing in for Queen Elizabeth, Head of the Commonwealth, called on the member states to heighten cooperation to deal with challenges including fighting climate change, poverty and promoting equitable development and technological connectivity.
Heads of Government and their representatives posing for the Official Photograph at the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) ( Pic courtesy CHOGM website)
Meanwhile Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa who also spoke of the challenges facing Commonwealth countries said, “As a matter of priority, we, in the Commonwealth, should focus on development challenges, confronting the majority of our member nations. I see a compelling need for those who guide the destiny of the Commonwealth to give serious thought to practical modalities, focusing on social and economic issues. This will greatly enhance the relevance and value of the Commonwealth,” he stated.
He urged that particular emphasis be placed on the well-being of women and children and pointed to the acute need for awareness of both the potential and the risks attendant on Information Technology.
Heads of Government and other officials from the Commonwealth member states pay homage to the National Anthem of Sri Lanka ( Pic courtesy CHOGM website)
“Although economic priorities take centre stage, let us not forget that people are the greatest wealth of our nations. Strengthening the quality of human capital will help countries to achieve sustained growth. Greater people-to-people contact within the nations of the Commonwealth, as well as taking the objectives of the Commonwealth to the most remote sections of our populations, is also important,” President Rajapaksa stated.
Guyana’s association with the Commonwealth dates back to 1966 when it became a member and the period 1975 to 1990 period when the esteemed Guyanese Sir Shridath Ramphal served as Secretary General.
There are 53 member countries of the Commonwealth that endeavour to cooperate, promote international understanding and world peace all in the interest of their citizens.