Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prince Charles welcome Heads of Government to Colombo

The Prince of Wales opened the 22nd Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he was representing Queen Elizabeth as Head of the Commonwealth. 

“Sri Lanka was one of the founding countries of the modern Commonwealth,” he said. 

“Historians of this family of nations will recall that, in the circumstances of that time, the Commonwealth showed an exceptional spirit of accommodation over how the organisation should be constituted.” 

He also spoke of the importance of the Commonwealth Charter – which brings together the values and aspirations of the Commonwealth in a single document – which was signed by the Queen on Commonwealth Day 2013. 

He added: “If I may, I should like to take this opportunity of extending Her Majesty’s sincere thanks for this remarkable initiative, which has been founded as a tribute to her 60 years of service as Head of the Commonwealth.” 

Of the 50 countries in attendance at the main Heads of Government Meeting, 27 countries had sent their Head of State or Government in person, with the rest being represented by other senior officials. Canada, India and Mauritius boycotted the meeting (see page 81). 

Sri Lanka’s President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, alluded to the summit’s theme of ‘Growth with equity: inclusive development’ in his welcome speech. 

He said: “We believe this theme has broad relevance to the larger Commonwealth and highlights the importance of equity in economic development, particularly in view of the existing disparities in the distribution of wealth and economic benefits.” 

In his opening ceremony address, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said that the role of CHOGMs is to bring member countries closer together as a family. 

“Deep awareness that our destinies are joined drives us forward in seeking together practical solutions to the many great tasks before the Commonwealth, and the world at large,” he said. 

Malta is to hold the 2015 CHOGM, while Vanuatu and Malaysia have offered to host the 2017 and 2019 summits, respectively.


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