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Act tough against terror

Lanka tells ASEAN Regional Forum:

PHILIPPHINES: Sri Lanka yesterday called for a “cohesive and concerted stand” by the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) to wipe out terrorism.

Speaking after Sri Lanka was formally granted membership of the 27-member ARF in Manila, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said it is no longer an option to feel ensconced on the basis of acts of terrorism taking place in some part of the world far from our shores and sharing of intelligence information was vital.

“Hardly any nation State has not been affected by terrorism in one way or another. It threatens to send all human achievement in reverse and this includes the fundamental freedoms and economic development our people have achieved and enjoy, albeit in varying scale,” the Minister said.

Terrorist movements worldwide are driven by the twin objectives of causing death and mayhem on the one hand and economic chaos on the other. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has shown a tenacity to cause both of them, he added.

He pointed out that the LTTE owns and operates ships which are used for human smuggling, the smuggling of narcotics, arms and military hardware. A majority of the narcotic shipments are destined for Western markets.

The Minister noted that successive Governments in Sri Lanka have demonstrated a remarkable ability in not letting the scourge of terrorism affect the country in a way that the LTTE would very much wish.

“We have maintained a growth rate of 7.4% in GDP terms in 2006 and this is projected to increase this year. Foreign direct investment in 2006 amounted to US$ 640 million, while exports increased by 8.4% to US$ 6.883 million. These figures are expected to rise in the current year.”

He stressed that eradicating terrorism was an issue not only important for a few countries alone but for the international community at large. Sri Lanka encourages the adoption of domestic legislation to combat terrorism.

“We note with satisfaction that the international community is taking action in this regard. For instance, the LTTE among many others has been listed as a terrorist organization by India, the United States, the member states of the European Union and Canada.”

“So long as funds are raised by these groups in some countries to commit acts of terror in another, this world will never be safe. We would only at our own peril draw distinctions between the threat posed for instance by Al-Qaeda and the LTTE. Given the vastly interdependent world of today, an economic downturn caused by a single terrorist act in one part of the globe will have an instant domino effect in markets far removed from it.”

Citing UNCTAD, the Minister said Foreign Direct Investment to the Global South increased by 200% in the years between 2000 and 2004, whilst such inflows to the global North plunged by 27% in the same time frame as a direct consequence of the 9/11 bombings.

“The question that arises is how much would the developing world benefit if the stability of export markets is affected by terrorism. The same hypothesis in reverse is equally true. This reflects the interdependency between the global North and global South and contains within it the urgent need to cooperate in wiping out terrorism.”

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