Lumumba University honors President Rajapaksa with a Doctorate in Moscow, Russia
By Janaka Alahapperuma
Feb 8, 2010
Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa was awarded a Honoris Causa Doctorate by the Peoples’ Friendship University (PFU), formally known as Patricia Lumumba University of Moscow in Russia on Saturday 6th February 2010 at 6.00pm.
The PFU is celebrating its Golden Jubilee and to mark the anniversary it has been decided to award the Honorary Doctorate to President Rajapaksa for his contribution for world peace and outstanding success against defeating terrorism. The award ceremony was held at the conference hall of the Great Kremlin Concert Hotel in Moscow.
Head of the University Rector Professor Vladimir M. Filippov presented the President with a diploma at the ceremony. President Rajapaksa addressed the audience following the conferment. The conference hall was fully packed with more than 6000 invitees from over 100 countries. Several world leaders, including Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo also attended the ceremony.
The People’s Friendship University (PFU) was established by the former USSR government on 5th February 1960. On 22nd February 1961 it was named after Patricia Lumumba, a political and public figure, a poet and also the head of the first Peoples’ Democratic Government of Congo. The university was re-named as “Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia on 5th February 1992. Since 1995 PFU has awarded ‘Doctor Honoris Causa’ to distinguished persons for outstanding academic achievements in the fields of science and education and to world leaders in recognition of their contribution towards fostering world peace. The awardees include five (5) Presidents and two (2) Prime Ministers from around the globe.
The official letter informing of the awarding of this degree was handed over to President Rajapaksa by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov, during their meeting when he visited Sri Lanka recently. President Mahinda Rajapaksa will meet the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday. Also on the same day at the Russian Ministry of Finance, there will be a US$ 300 million credit line signing ceremony. President Rajapaksa is also scheduled to hold bilateral talks with former President and the present Prime Minister of Russia Vladimir Putin, other government officials and the business community.
The President’s entourage includes Madam Shiranthi Rajapaksa, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama,Minster of Export Development & International Trade Prof.G.L Peiris, Minister of Mass Media & Information, Enterprise Development & Investment Promotion Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Education Minister Susil Premajayantha, Minister of Power Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Leader of the National Freedom Front MP Wimal Weerawansa and the Secretary to the President Mr.Lalith Weeratunga.
Russian language speaking Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Moscow Udayanga Weeratunga will host a reception at the Ritz Carlton Hotel and the 62nd Independence Day celebrations during the President’s visit to Russia.
Here is the text of President Rajapaksa's speech of acceptance :
It is with a sense of humility that I accept the most prestigious award of the "Doctorate Honoris Causa" of the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia. I do so because the accomplishments mentioned in the citation stem not from my individual effort but from the efforts of the people of Sri Lanka.
The citation spells out that the conferment is due to our contribution to world peace. For over three decades the very existence of our nation and the peace and prosperity of our people were threatened by the menace of the LTTE, described as one of the deadliest of terrorist organizations.
When the terrorists adamantly rejected our sincere efforts for negotiation, we had to use military means to defeat them in a comprehensive manner. It was a humanitarian operation launched with absolute care for the civilian population held hostage by the terrorists for decades.
This evening, I stand before you having been pronounced only a few days ago, the 6th Executive President of my country, on the basis of an election held nationwide on a free and fair basis. The voters through graciously conferring on me a share of almost 58% of the total votes cast, made their desire for peace, democracy and progress known in a very clear and forthright manner, although the campaign launched by the opposition was a vicious one.
During the last 4 years, I have been able to take my country to hitherto unknown heights in development. It suffices to say that during the last 4 years our economy has become stronger despite global recession, and there has been unprecedented progress in every sector of the social and cultural life of the nation. Although we were concentrating on defeating terrorism, we did not forget the welfare of the people and infrastructure development.
Today, our business confidence levels are high. Our future needs in energy, human resources and banking are already planned for. Our poverty levels are dropping sharply. Our international recognition is presently that of a middle income emerging market nation. These conditions make Sri Lanka an obvious favourite of investors from all over the world.
It has always been my earnest resolve throughout my political career of 40 years to respond to the trust placed in me by the people of Sri Lanka. I am accordingly supremely confident that having united our territory, I will be able to heal the wounds and unite the hearts of all our people. This is the aspiration of our people.
The Peoples' Friendship University of Russia is dedicated to the noble ideal of "uniting people of different nationalities, races and religions through knowledge". Patrice Lumumba, whose life inspired the founding of this university, made it a point to stress that "we retain the right to be friends with whoever we like in accordance with the spirit of political neutrality". This is very much the spirit in which I propose to address myself to the massive challenges that confront me in the years ahead.
I wish to warmly congratulate the Peoples' Friendship University on its Fiftieth Anniversary and to hail its magnificent and generous contribution to humanity by enabling over the years tens of thousands from the developing world to obtain within its halls, a first class University education.
In doing so, the University has demonstrated the generous commitment of Russia and her people. My own country Sri Lanka has had the benefit of several thousands of her citizens graduating from this University. To strike a personal note, my younger brother is also a graduate of this great hall of learning and I have had the good fortune to visit this university in the seventies.
Before I conclude, I wish to quote from Appamada Vagga in Dhammapada, the unprecedented Anthology of the Buddha's word. The Enlightened One says of Heedfulness,
Uttanavatho sathimatho - suchikammassa nisammakarino Sagngnatassa cha dhammajeevino - appamattassa yasobhivaddathi
It means, "Mindful and striving, pure, restrained and righteous, man advances to fame and prosperity."
In conclusion, I wish to thank all of you, for being here to share our happiness and I wish you a bright future.
Pix by: Sudath Silva