Header Ads

GSP+ at the UN

(September 24, New York, Sri Lanka Guardian) Discussing the EU-GSP plus review process, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama expressed some concern on Sri Lanka having to fulfill changing expectations in order to retain the preferential trading terms on 7200 items, when he met Javiar Solana, Secretary General of the Council of the European Union, in New York today (23/9). He underscored the need for the European Commission to have greater understanding on the ground realities and seek engagement on a wider agenda in order to have vibrant engagement with Sri Lanka. He opined that the Commissioners should be advised to engage with countries rather than embark on an investigative process on issues of cooperation. For this purpose the Minister observed that the Commissioners should seek to visit Sri Lanka as has been done by the EU political leadership.

Foreign Minister Bogollagama referred to the fact that bilateral relations with each EU member state has been traditional and pointed out the need for their understanding in structuring a dialogue with Sri Lanka. This, he said, would contribute in facilitating the need to turn a new chapter in Sri Lanka’s relations with the EU in the aftermath of defeating terrorism. Minister Bogollagama stated that the development programmes in the North comprise the provision of houses together with the basic needs to the displaced persons since the terrorists had posed a challenge by not providing these requirements. The Minister concluded that progress on the resettlement, reconstruction and reconciliation in the post-conflict phase would be proved with time.

Secretary General Solana acknowledged that Sri Lanka had completed the critical phase by defeating terrorism but there were related issues which needed to be addressed. He said that the displaced must return to their areas of habitat. He hoped that the GSP plus review process will have a positive outcome through concerted engagement on the part of Sri Lanka and the EU.

The Foreign Minister also met with his Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos Cuyaube on this occasion, and brought to his attention the activities continuing to be carried out by the activists of the terrorist group domiciled abroad. He said that while this terrorist group had been nationally dismantled militarily their propaganda network and fund raising abroad continues unabated, and requested for vigilance by the Spanish Government in this regard. The Minister outlined the challenges being faced in resettling the IDPs and requested for assistance in demining activities in terms of equipment. He said that an action plan for resettlement and a demining proposal would be made available. The Minister Bogollagama explained the developments with regard to the post conflict and observed that Sri Lanka’s agenda needs to be handled constructively in the EU context. They also discussed issues pertaining to the EU-GSP plus review process.

Minister Cuyaube stated that Spain understood the challenges faced by Sri Lanka considering that his country also has been confronted by terrorism and is a common threat to both countries. He pledged solidarity with Sri Lanka and stated that Spain would extend its full support in facing the challenges in the post conflict stage. The Spanish Minister informed that Spain possesses high capacities on technology and has experience in demining activities in other parts of the world and therefore could offer support in this regard. He also stated that Spain could assist in the reconstruction phase by cooperating in building houses as was done by Spain following the Tsunami. Minister Cuyaube advised that a framework be worked out for the conduct of EU Sri Lanka relations. Minister Bogollagama concluded that Sri Lanka was greatly encouraged by Spain’s proactive and supportive stance on the bilateral front.

Subsequently, Minister Bogollagama met with Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba. Minister Parrilla conveyed the warm sentiments of the Cuban leader Fidel Castro to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Minister Bogollagama informed that Sri Lanka is awaiting the visit of the Deputy Foreign Minister of Cuba to commemorate 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. He outlined that the celebrations would include the cancellation of a commemorative stamp and conclusion of Memorandum of Understanding on strengthening contacts between the Foreign Ministries of Sri Lanka and Cuba. The Sri Lankan Minister thanked his Cuban counterpart for the provision of Dengue vaccine. The Cuban Minister briefed Minister Bogollagama on the resilience of their economy and exchanged views on the developments in Honduras. They also discussed developments in the world sugar market and production since Cuba is a leading producer of this commodity.

On this occasion Minister Bogollagama held discussions with the Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma. Their discussions centered a round the developments on the internally displaced people in the North of Sri Lanka, technical cooperation to Sri Lanka, the situation in Fiji since it features on the agenda of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group and the envisaged outcome of the forthcoming Commonwealth Ministerial Meeting on Terrorism. Minister Bogollagama said that he envisaged for the meeting to deliberate on the apprehension of terrorist networks abroad, inter-state and regional cooperation efforts to bring about comprehensive counter-terrorism action and seizure of assets of terrorist groups. The Minister also appreciated the technical assistance provided with regard to Sri Lanka’s application on the delimitation of the Continental Shelf.

Secretary General Sharma expressed willingness for the Commonwealth to partner Sri Lanka in the reconstruction and reconciliation phase. He pointed out that the Commonwealth which is working on a project for women and youth could be utilized for a project on the rehabilitation of youth. He also informed that as of recent there is cooperation with Sri Lanka in the area of justice. The Secretary General upheld that the revised Commonwealth Plan of Action on Terrorism (CPAT) would be a positive way forward in cooperating with the member countries.
-Sri Lanka Guardian

No comments

Powered by Blogger.