In his speech at the G20 Interfaith Forum in Bologna, Italy, the Prime Minister said that while it may be legitimate for countries to close their borders temporarily to contain the virus, isolation is not the answer.
“One of the realities of the world in which we live, is the free movement of goods, services and people across national frontiers. Migration in search of a better life is challenged by conditions prevailing today, but employment opportunities on an equitable basis must continue to be available freely,” he said.
He said that the grave heath crisis which the world is experiencing at this time, serves to underline the bonds which unite all adding that COVID-19 makes no distinction among religions, nationalities and civilizations.
“It strikes a deadly blow at all humanity. In order to survive the pandemic and resume our lives once more, international cooperation needs to be strengthened. Vaccines and other protection, made possible by modern medicine, must be available across the globe, with firm arrangements in place for less affluent nations to be assisted by international organizations and by countries with stronger economies. It is a battle that has to be won, not by some, but by all,” he said.
The Prime Minister further noted that extremist ideology, and violence associated with it, represent one of the most serious challenges of our time.
“It is appropriate to recall the tragic events of 09/11, exactly twenty years ago, and to share our deep sense of grief with the families of victims of this outrage and, indeed, with all humankind. This is a reminder of the need for eternal vigilance against all forms of terrorist action, whoever be the offenders and whatever be their professed aims and purposes,” he added.
The Prime Minister also said that reconciliation is a critical need of our time and that conflicts and escalating tensions are all too evident around us.
“Peace and stability come from healthy relationships with all who live in our countries, including those with whom we have deep disagreements. Here, again, our religion teaches us that hatred is not conquered by hatred but by love alone. Rather than dwell on grievances derived from the past, we must focus on the present, the need for harmony with points of view different from our own, and the inspiring new frontier which awaits us all if we forge the urgently needed links of brotherhood and understanding,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that the G20 Interfaith Forum, which has been a regular event over the last seven years, presents a rare opportunity for intercultural dialogue. (Colombo Gazette)