Mr. Chairman, Your Majesties, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen:
At the time I offered congratulations to you, Mr. Chairman, on being elected to the Chair, I described this meeting as being historic. I think we can, at this hour of its conclusion, all agree that description was well justified.
We have taken the important step of formally establishing a regional framework comprising our seven nations. We have also proclaimed its Charter which spells out the principal aims and goals that we will be working together to achieve for the common good of our peoples, for strengthening understanding and co-operation between our countries, and for maintaining peace and stability in our region. We have also issued a Declaration that sets out our priorities and concerns and the principles that will guide our joint endeavours.
This has demonstrated beyond any doubt our resolve and the courage of our convictions, and that the future course we will chart for our region, with the newly founded South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation as the framework of our co-operation, is not in any question.
The decisions that we have taken at Dhaka will have far-reaching effects on the future of our region. By our very presence here, and by virtue of the political will we have expressed, I believe that we have moved closer to the goals and the aims enshrined in the Charter and in the Declaration.
Our achievements here at Dhaka have laid strong foundations upon which we can all build. They have also generated an impetus which we must not permit to falter, for if we do, we will certainly be failing in our duties. We have assembled here in the name of our peoples, and it must be clearly demonstrated to them that this Summit meeting was no false dawn.
Neither must the opportunity be lost in utilising the occasion to declare to the international community that we are determined to implement those initiatives we have taken to bolster the sovereignty of our individual states and enhance the total independence of our region. We must give a clear signal that these objectives are as important to us as they are important to others; that we collectively have a united will to promote the welfare and progress of our peoples.
In working together towards that goal, let us not relegate either the sovereignty of our Ocean, which to all of us is of paramount importance, including, I am sure, our distinguished colleagues from Nepal and Bhutan. For the dangers of the Indian Ocean becoming an area of East West tension are abundantly clear – history is full of such examples. The effect in our particular case would be to cause ripples that may, with an alarming speed, assume the proportions of a tidal wave, in which our hopes and our aspirations may very well drown. But, and as I have said, we have the will, we have the resolve and, above all, we have the courage.
That has been proven here beyond question.
That our deliberations have been the success they have is due in no small measure to the efforts made by you, Mr. Chairman, and the sincere support and co-operation extended to you by all my colleagues. For all that has been done for our comfort and convenience, we owe a profound debt of gratitude to you, Mr. Chairman, and to the Government and people of this great and hospitable country, which I now record and indeed express. The quality of the friendship we have all been shown is yet further proof that one of the finest social attributes of our region - that of unstinting hospitality - is alive and well.
May the spirit of our new Association live from strength to strength, and may the Charter we signed and the Declaration we proclaimed be the guiding light of our collective progress to a better tomorrow for the 1,000 million people we have the honour to represent.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.