Co-chairman of the Standing Committee and Secretary-General of ICAPP,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honor and privilege for me to address this opening ceremony of the 8th General Assembly of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties being held here in the historic city of Colombo. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the host country Sri Lanka, particularly its major political parties, for the kind hospitality extended to my delegation since our arrival here and also for the excellent arrangements made for the meeting.
I am glad to note that Sri Lanka has achieved stability and progress under the dynamic leadership of H.E. President Mahindra Rajapaksa. All sources of conflicts and tensions have been finished and with new-found peace, this great country with rich past has been marching on the path of economic growth and development. I wish all success in your journey to peace, progress and prosperity. My country Nepal is taking the peace process to its logical conclusion, writing a democratic constitution and paving ground for a new era of durable peace, sustained economic growth and sustainable development. We want to exit from the LDC status and graduate to a developing country by 2022. We have seen the possibility to achieve this ambitious goal through enhanced partnership with international community.
As a track two effort to bring together the Asian political parties in dialogue and problem-solving, ICAPP has to our satisfaction made important headways in forging political partnership for collective action. All of us who are deeply involved in the ICAPP process since the beginning must feel happy at this achievement, and be prepared to accomplish more, given the huge population, vastness of landscape and diversity of Asia. We have with us the strength of 364 political parties from 53 countries in the region who come with diverse political and ideological backgrounds. We are bound by a common objective of promoting peace, progress and prosperity in Asia by creating suitable cross-cultural political environment under which all good efforts in positive transformation become possible.
Asia is rising with a new vibrancy in its socio-economic life which was never seen before. It has become hugely productive and making regular supplies of diverse goods and services to the world market. Investment and trade activities are growing. New prospects and opportunities have opened up in Asia. China has immensely contributed to this resurgence, China and India’s vast population, with predominance of young people, has become a reservoir of dynamic workforce for the region as well as beyond. Asian women have been coming out of their traditional cocoon of household chores and increasingly asserting their positions in all activities of modern life. Their level of education and learning has significantly increased in quantity and quality. This new-found prospect in several spheres of Asia need to be properly harnessed and a new dynamism and forward momentum created with collective effort.
Regional organizations have flourished in Asia. We have regional organizations like ASEAN, SAARC, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BIMSTEC, to name but a few. The boom in the economy of China can bring larger beneficial effects on the regional economic cooperation and integration of the Asian economies for increased trade and investments. Some of the more established regional organizations have left important footprints in forging regional economic cooperation and signaling a win-win situation for all partners. These regional organizations must be leveraged to play full-fledged roles for larger transformations of Asia. They can extend cooperation beyond the defined boundaries of regions or sub-regions and create complementarity of development endeavors. These are definitely positive developments from which benefits must come to the people of Asia in tangible forms.
We have always been saying that in doing so and so, we need political will. But the question is where does it come from and how it needs to be applied to give results to the people? I believe that in an age of democracy, rule of law and human rights, political will comes from collective and conscious exercise of the minds of the trusted people – those mandated by the general public. Meeting of minds like this forum therefore has very high significance. In an interconnected and rapidly globalizing world, the power of political will must be multiplied through dialogues and cooperation and the same applied in a broader context. The world can be successfully led on the path of sustainable development if our collective will combine to form a whole.
The traditional values of families, spirituality and feeling for others that is so nicely embedded in the Asian culture must be preserved and promoted in the changing context of time. Asia must also learn to preserve the cultural heritage and conserve the vast environmental heritage that has been passed to us in pristine form because of the low carbon consumption pattern we had in the past. We need to be more innovative in our approach and apply science and technology for further progress and prosperity. There is a need to rapidly diffuse appropriate technologies to bring wider changes in the Asian production patterns. These technologies could be transferred from Asian countries themselves or from other parts of the world.
Along with rising affluence and prosperity, Asia must also be fully considerate to the plight of the global poor who live in highest number in this part of the world. Increasing inequality within and among nations has become a source of tension and friction, which should be managed with the promotion of inclusive society. Poverty can be eliminated if we show real will power. If we can bring the vast number of people out of poverty, we build a stronger foundation of further progress and prosperity.
Peace and security in Asia should not be compromised at any pretext as it is the prerequisite for development. Dialogues and negotiations and political understandings are necessary for ensuring abiding peace, trust and confidence- building.
We must leave no stone unturned for involvement of youths and women in building prosperity of Asia. They need more exposure of cross-cultural understanding and collaboration. Their creative energies must be unleashed for larger progress.
To conclude, the rise of Asia means we have more responsibilities to fulfill. In our collective responsibility, nobody should be left behind. The synergy of collective efforts is what Asia should represent. ICAPP as a track II process can facilitate the building of collective political will needed to lift Asia to a greater height of progress and prosperity in an ambient environment of peace and security.
I thank you all!