EU MPs hail Sri Lanka’s democracy | Daily News

EU MPs hail Sri Lanka’s democracy

The ‘Friends of Sri Lanka Group’ members of the European Parliament Geoffrey Van Orden, MEP and William (Earl of) Dartmouth, MEP welcomed the progress in Sri Lanka in further consolidating democracy, particularly the rule of law and strengthening the democratic institutions. This was a part of their engagement process with Sri Lanka.

They were in discussions with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, Foreign Affairs Minister Tilak Marapana, Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrema, during their visit to the country from January 2 to 6 at the invitation of the Government of Sri Lanka.

The MEPs discussed the recent political developments, constitutional reforms as well as the need for Sri Lanka to maximize GSP+ utilization for development. They also discussed issues of common interest relating to EU – Sri Lanka co-operation in a number of fields regional issues, governance and the rule of law, civil society issues and human rights amongst others. During their 5-day stay, the Parliamentarians also held wide consultations with representatives of the opposition, political parties as well as other officials.

The EU Parliamentarians also met the Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa, Leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) R. Sampanthan and Leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Rauf Hakeem. During their visit to Vavuniya, the Security Forces Commander / Wanni, Major General Kumudu Perera briefed the MEPs on the key contributions by the Army in aiding resettlement activities, which was commended by the MEPs. They met the District Secretary (GA) of Vavuniya, and visited a resettlement village in Sithampirapuram/ Vavuniya, where they engaged in an open dialogue with the inhabitants observing the progress in the reconciliation process.

A visit was also arranged to the MAS Fabric Park in Thulhiriya, to familiarize the MEPs on the state-of-the-art sustainable apparel manufacturing carried out by MAS, contributing to employment generation as well as livelihood and economic empowerment in the area, noting the accruing benefits of the GSP+ for the industry.

Dr. Ganeshan Wignaraja, Executive Director of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies had an interactive session with the MEPs on the geo-political developments in the region and Sri Lanka’s relations with major international players. The Friends of Sri Lanka Group in the EU Parliament since its inception in 2006 has been involved in the promotion of EU – Sri Lanka relations complementing the process of EU assistance to Sri Lanka. Geoffrey Van Orden, MEP has served as Chair of the Group since its inception. Earl of Dartmouth joined the Group in 2012.

The Friends of Sri Lanka Group last visited Sri Lanka in February 2016.


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