PARO, BHUTAN: 27 April, 2010 – Six SAARC leaders have arrived in the country ahead of the 16th SAARC summit that begins tomorrow in Thimphu.
The Bangladeshi Prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, President Mohamed Nasheed of Maldives, Prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani of Pakistan and Prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal of Nepal landed at Paro airport this morning.
The leaders that arrived separately were received at Paro airport by the Bhutanese prime minister, Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley, before heading off to Thimphu.
The Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapakse, who is the current chairman of SAARC, flew in yesterday afternoon. Lyonchhoen Jigmi Thinley has already held bilateral meetings with president Mahinda Rajapakse.
Bilateral meetings with the other SAARC leaders and leaders of observer delegations are being held today.
The Indian prime minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, is expected to arrive tomorrow just in time for the opening of the summit that starts at 1:30 in the afternoon.
Bhutan PM LJY Thinley urges media to promote values
By Phuntsho Choden
Paro, Bhutan, April 27, 2010 – In a speech that received a standing ovation from around 120 journalists and media personnel from the eight SAARC countries in Paro yesterday, Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley urged the media to play a responsible role in helping society to promote the right values that contribute to the happiness and well being of society.
“The media must help construct cultures that will build creative nations, so that cultural diversity doesn’t become painful differences,” said the prime minister, who was the chief guest for the opening of the fifth SAARC journalists’ summit being held at Zhiwaling.
“It’s important for media to understand what the average person thinks and feels, their daily concerns about housing, roads and parking, litter, safety on the streets”, he said.
“You must engage our massive rural community and analyse how we can best serve the community and society’s many needs”, he said and added, “We must also all ask ourselves: Do we know what kind of media content our children are absorbing… do we care?”
The prime minister said that media provides public space for discourse and is, in fact, the public space with important social responsibilities and obligations.
“In our national vision, the role of the Bhutanese media – and the information society at large – is to nurture a shared national consciousness,” Lyonchhoen said, adding that the consciousness will be the foundation of a national identity that is built on the values of Gross National Happiness.
“For good governance, the media must mean transparency in government and governance, thus deepening democracy.” he said.
The south Asian free media association (SAFMA) is organising the two-day journalists’ summit, taking place alongside the SAARC summit in Thimphu.
While highlighting the objectives of the fifth journalists’ summit, SAFMA general secretary Imtiaz Alam said they hope that the “SAARC summit would not only be addressing issues of environment, but also strengthen connectivity, communication, free movement of goods, information, journalists and media products in South Asia”.
He also requested the prime minister to propose, during the 16th SAARC summit, the recognition of SAFMA as SAARC’s regional media forum. He also requested the prime minister to propose on their behalf a south Asian media endowment fund of USD 20M.
“SAFMA is again proposing an easy and unrestricted visa regime for South Asian journalists across the region,” Imtiaz Alam said.
Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley responded that he would ensure that these issues would be raised at the summit.
In his key note address to the journalists, the prime minister also said that it is the media that can help the world garner political will and courage to undertake a paradigm shift to bring about fundamental changes in the way international and national security, finance, politics and power are structured and conducted.
“Journalists, now more than ever, need to understand issues ranging from economics to science and development,” he said. “Our media must expose the illusory nature of wealth, as illustrated by the Great Depression, the recent Asian financial crisis and the global economic recession. The paradigm shift will however entail unfathomable social ramifications. Are we ready to undertake it?”
A leading media personnel in India and former BBC journalist, Satish Jacob, said that the prime minister sent a strong message to all journalists yesterday, when he said that journalists should not see their readers, listeners or viewers as consumers but as citizens. “The delivery was impressive and we could sense that he meant his each and every word,” said Satish Jacob.
Information and communication minister, foreign minister of Maldives, government secretaries and heads of various media organizations attended the opening of the summit.
Lyonchhoen also hosted a dinner and interacted with the media after the opening session.
“I haven’t heard any of the South Asian leaders speak with such knowledge and political commitment on the issue of human oriented development, and therefore the standing ovation,” said another SAFMA member and a senior journalist from Sri Lanka, Lakshman FB Gunasekra.
Media participants would have discussions on ‘Environment: A Looming Threat to South Asia” and “Connectivity and Information” at the journalists’ summit today.
Debut Saarc summit for Bhutan
From the Deccan Cronicle
By DC Correspondent
New Delhi, April 23: The 16th Saarc summit to be held in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, on April 28-29 will mark 25 years of the establishment of the South Asian regional grouping. Bhutan is hosting a Saarc summit for the first time.
This year, the Saarc summit will focus on climate change and sign two pacts on environment and trade.
Bhutan has chosen climate change as the theme for the summit, which is expected to culminate in a joint declaration entitled “Towards a Green and Happy South Asia”.
A separate ministerial declaration on climate change will also be issued.
The Saarc countries will sign a convention on environment to boost exchange of best practices and knowledge, capacity building and transfer of eco-friendly technology in areas such as climate change, coastal zone management, wildlife conservation and environmental impact assessment studies.
The Saarc was established in 1985. It comprised of seven countries: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Maldives.
Afghanistan joined Saarc as its eighth member in 2007.
China, Iran, European Union, Japan, South Korea, the United States and Mauritius have observer status in the Saarc.
Australia and Burma will join Saarc as observers at the Bhutan summit, taking the total number of Saarc observers to nine.
The Chinese delegation at the summit would be represented by vice foreign minister Wang Guangya.
Sri Lankan President in Bhutan for SAARC summit
From The Island
Colombo, April 27: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who arrived in Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan yesterday morning, to participate in the SAARC Heads of the State summit, was received with full military honours. The Prime Minister of Bhutan was at the airport to receive him.
The 25th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit is scheduled to be held on Wednesday and Thursday.
The SAARC countries are scheduled to enter into three important agreements at this year’s conference and set up a SAARC Fund to render financial assistance to the region.
The SAARC was established in 1985 with the prime aim of safeguarding the social and economic standards of the people of the region.
SAARC member states have a population of 1,500 million.
This year’s conference will pay attention to the changing global weather patterns and environment.
Maoist strike in Nepal from May 2 – Nepal PM to attend SAARC Summit
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY J. HEMANTH
Kathmandu, April 26: The Maoists today announced an indefinite general strike in Nepal from May 2 as Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal prepared to fly to Bhutan tomorrow to attend the 16 th Saarc summit
Flanked by top party leaders, Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal, alias Prachanda, told a crowded news conference that the party cadre was geared up to ensure that the strike was a success.
Prachanda said his party was forced to call a strike as the coalition government had rejected all its proposals to end the political standoff. “At the same time we are open for dialogue during the general strike to sort out the problems in a mutually amicable manner,” Prachanda said.
The Maoist chief, who was clearly in a combative mood, described the government as corrupt and anti-national. He said his party would not climb down from its position till Prime Minister Nepal resigns and makes way for a national unity government.
Editor of Sikkim Express to attend SAARC summit
From Voice of Sikkim
Gangtok: Mr. Amit Patro, Editor of Sikkim Express will be among the 21 journalists selected from the country to cover the 16th SAARC summit to be held at Thimphu, Bhutan, on April 28 and 29. Mr. Patro is the only journalist from Sikkim selected by the Ministry of External Affairs to cover the historic summit which also marks 25 years of the establishment of SAARC.
Prime Minister Dr Man Mohan Singh will attend the summit along with heads of other SAARC member-nations. This is the first time Bhutan is hosting the SAARC summit. The theme for the summit is ‘Climate Change’ and the summit is expected to draw regional attention towards this issue as South Asia is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Mr. Patro, who is also the Working President of Press Club of Sikkim, will be in the media entourage to fly with the Prime Minister from New Delhi on April 27.