Daily News Online

Friday, 19 November 2010


Aurora: Daily News supplement on the occasion of the inauguration of President Mahinda Rajapaksa's Second Term of Office | www.dailynews.lk

Golden era of international relations:

Far-sighted foreign policy

President Rajapaksa addressing the UN summit.

Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected as the Fifth Executive President of Sri Lanka at a time the country was crying out for a new and strong leadership. During his regime the country’s foreign policy took a new course. The Foreign Policy of any country should not be static, but be changed according to the needs of the time. Generally it is believed that a Foreign Policy of a country should promote and protect the national interest of a country. It is a set of responses to external challenges and external opportunities.

The efforts made by the Rajapaksa Regime to resist unnecessary international intervention and pursue timely, appropriate and country-friendly policies always helped Sri Lanka to emerge from the crisis with more robust performance than would otherwise have been possible. President Rajapaksa showed the world that either the size or the economic strength of a country is insignificant, if it is ruled by a people-friendly leader who would not betray his motherland under any adverse international influence.

The necessity of implementing international treaties and declarations on anti-corruption was emphasized as such acts would enable the country to act under the international law against those found guilty of corruption when engaging in trade with foreign countries or foreign institutions.


President Rajapaksa with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Strengthening ties with India – with Indian PM Dr Manmohan Singh.

Honorary Doctorate for President Rajapaksa from the People’s Friendship University of Russia.

President Rajapaksa with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

President Rajapaksa firmly believes that the United Nations Organization and other Financial Institutions should be more democratic in their approach. The speech he delivered at the UN General Assembly last September also shows his stand on any International organization. Leaders elected by people need the support of international community as they usually face ‘difficult situations’ and at times they have to take ‘decisive decisions’ for the welfare of their citizens.

As he stated; “The results of their decisions must be evaluated objectively and must be allowed to speak for themselves. That is not to say countries should operate in isolation. In this globally inter-dependent world, we must work together where we can and constructively counsel each other where appropriate. The United Nations forms the bed-rock of this interaction and in this role it will always receive the support of Sri Lanka.’

‘Terrorism anywhere is terrorism’

The LTTE was always trying to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka through false propaganda. Eminent Foreign Ministers such as late Lakshman Kadirgamar played a significant role in rebuilding the image of the country in the international arena. During Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tenure this task was carried out even more prudently by sending high-level diplomatic missions to various countries.

" A non-aligned foreign policy

I will continue Sri Lanka’s non-aligned foreign policy. During the last four years we witnessed the benefits of maintaining friendly relations with India, Japan, China, Pakistan and other Asian 56 countries. I am committed to continue these friendly relations in the political, economic, defence, trade and cultural arena. I will ensure that Sri Lanka abides by the global treaties and agreements on environmental and climate change and will strengthen Sri Lanka’s ties with the UN Agencies. I will maintain the dignity of my country in foreign relations and will initiate a new programme to forge relations with countries. "

- Mahinda Chinthana - Idiri Dakma”

President Rajapaksa was unambiguously committed to defeat terrorism in all its manifestations and was successful in driving his message home that the LTTE had always been a terrorist organization and that they never represented the Tamil community of Sri Lanka. It was emphasized that what Sri Lanka had was a humanitarian operation to rescue the Tamil community, not a racial one. In short President Rajapaksa stressed the fact that “terrorism anywhere is terrorism.”

As analyzed by many academics, the prudent manner he handled ‘the Indian factor’ was of tremendous use when defeating LTTE terrorism which scourged the country for over thirty years. President Rajapaksa was never motivated by personal factors when maintaining friendships with foreign countries-particularly with India. India was always referred to as ‘Sri Lanka’s elder brother.’

The country-friendly policy adopted by President Rajapaksa could earn the good-will of India, thus enabling us to win the war despite the pressure exerted by certain Western leaders, EU or the UN. The high-level diplomatic missions undertaken by Minister Basil Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa played an important role in winning over India. Rajapaksa regime maintained cordial relations with Pakistan and China as well. As a result Sri Lanka could get military support even from India’s rival Pakistan while being on friendly terms with India.

India’s greatest competitor in the region, China too rose to the occasion. China helped Sri Lanka tremendously both in terms of military equipment and humanitarian aid. Recently China pledged even more aid to Sri Lanka. The Chinese Prime Minister promised his country’s assistance to develop infrastructure, particularly the highway network and bridges.

The government and the World Bank recently signed three project agreements totaling US $ 125.4 million for Small and Medium Enterprise Development, North East local service improvements, and sustainable tourism development. All these achievements were possible due to Mahinda Rajapaksa’s far-sighted foreign policy.

Under President Rajapaksa’s regime Sri Lanka established diplomatic relations with many a nations, strengthening and fostering relations in all their manifestations. He vowed to create a dignified Foreign Service which has a correct awareness of Sri Lanka’s history, economic needs and the cultural heritage. Official meetings with Iran President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Libyan President Gadaffie, chairing regional and international summits such as SAARC, G15, ACD addressing the UN summit reinforced his ‘stature’ in the international arena. In recognition of his services and strong political will, the People’s Friendship University of Russia conferred a Doctorate on him. The request he made from the Head of State of Portugal to return the artifacts the Portugese took away from Sri Lanka during their rule was a clear manifestation of his patriotism.

Role of advisor

Sri Lankan President was sought out for advice by foreign countries such as Nepal and Maldives. In July, 2010 he arrived in Male to resolve the political crisis of the then Maldivian government. Of late even the President of Nepal has sought President’s help to find a solution to overcome the political crisis in his country.

The Wall Street Journal (January 16, 2009) stated that: “For all those who argue that there’s no military solution for terrorism we have two words: Sri Lanka. Credit goes to the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has made eliminating the Tigers a priority and invested resources to make it happen. Military spending has surged to $1.7 billion for fiscal 2009, roughly 5 percent of GDP and nearly 20 percent of the government’s budget.” Addressing the 62nd State Independence Day Celebrations (the first Independence Day celebrations held after the eradication of LTTE terrorism) on February 4, 2010, President Rajapaksa stated specifically that in his foreign policy, whatever he has done was in the interest of the people of Sri Lanka.

“Now the world should have a correct opinion about us. The Tiger terrorism that impacted on other countries too has ended. The state of war is now over.

We are entering into a new era of co-existence after finishing the period of some controversy. I would like to say that we are now entering the golden era of international relations.”

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