President Rajapaksa’s visit to Libya:
New life to Libya-Lanka relations
The Sri Lanka - Libya
development cooperation commenced with the establishment of LAN
LIB company exactly three decades ago to promote peace and Human
Rights in Sri Lanka. The two countries can see new vistas and
areas where tremendous advantages and gains can accrue to both
Libyan Leader Muammar Gadaffi is served a cup of Sri Lanka tea
at a special rest hall allocated to the Heads of State attending
the NAM Summit at the BMICH in 1976. ANCL File Photo
Sri Lanka and Libya relations have stood the test of time and has
gone to the extent of exploring the employment market in the
construction, hospitality, trade and investment sectors in Libya. The
relations between the two countries will be enhanced with President
Mahinda Rajapaksa’s official visit to Libya which begins today.
The two countries enjoyed intimate and cordial relations under the
Non Aligned Movement since the establishment of Libyan mission in
Colombo in 1970.
The official visit of Libyan President Col Muammar Gadaffi to Sri
Lanka in 1976 took the bilateral relations into new vistas. The then
Government led by Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike who treaded the
path of non alignment recognised Libya as a partner for development and
The development of Libya suffered a major setback by the various
sanctions imposed by the United Nations after the Lockerbie incident in
1988. UN sanctions were lifted in 2003, once the Lockerbie incident had
finally been resolved with Libya agreeing to pay compensation to the
victims of PanAm flight which was exploded over the Lockerbie village in
Lifting of UN restrictions on Libya boosted the tourism with a number
of resorts springing up along its Mediterranean coast. The Sri Lanka -
Libya development cooperation commenced with the establishment of LAN
LIB company exactly three decades ago to promote peace and Human Rights
in Sri Lanka. The two countries can see new vistas and areas where
tremendous advantages and gains can accrue to both countries.
Sri Lankan tea has established a very strong market in Libya and it
has become a household name among the Libyans. Other Sri Lankan products
are also catching up the Libyan market rapidly since the liberalisation
of the Libyan economy to some extent.
The modern Libya of the Al Fatech revolution has committed to the
bilateral and multilateral system of free trade for the development of
the country under the leadership of Colonel Gadaffi who overthrew the
then administration by a coup in 1969.
Sri Lanka is looking forward to forge more closer economic ties with
Libyan following bilateral and multilateral modus operandi.
The Mahinda Rajapaksa Government took initiative to forge more closer
ties with Libya after it came into power in 2005 by sending strong
delegations at ministerial level.
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama led a strong business delegation
particularly for the purpose of expanding economic relations with Libya
in August 2007. The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister stressed the need of
establishing a consulate in Tripoli to boost the economic relations
between the two countries.
According to the Foreign Ministry sources, the Foreign Minister has
sought Libyan assistance for the construction of Trincomalee - Habarana
Highway during the discussion. Petroleum and Petroleum Resources
Development Minister A. H. M. Fowzie who was a member of the delegation
has also requested the Libyan technical assistance in the exploration of
petroleum resources in Sri Lanka.
The Cabinet of Ministers approved to a memorandum submitted by the
Foreign Minister Bogollagama to set up a Sri Lanka mission in Tripoli.
However the relations between the two countries was fading since 1980
and Libyan mission in Colombo functioned as an Interest Section under a
Charge d’ Affaires since 2006.
Foreign Employment Promotion Minister Keheliya Rambukwella also led a
delegation to Libya to explore possibility of exploiting employment
opportunities for Sri Lankan professionals particularly in the health
care and IT sector.
The two countries signed agreements, for the setting up of two hotel
schools, in Tripoli and Bengasi to train Libyans in the hospitality
trade. The proposed nursing school will train nurses and paramedics
needed in Libya. Teaching and coaching in the hospitality and the health
sector too are to be conducted by professors and professionals from Sri