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Thursday, 30 August 2012






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Government Gazette

The need to highlight SL's positives

External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris' meeting with Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith recently helped disclose some of this country's major achievements on the road to normalcy. Contrary to the opinion in some quarters that though much is being spoken of by the state, very little is being done by it, we had the observation by the External Affairs Minister that Treasury funds are being disbursed among the different state agencies which are implementing the numerous recommendations of the LLRC. There is indeed concrete action on the normalization front and the state's achievements 'on the ground' are the proof of this.

Concurrent to the implementation of the LLRC recommendations, the state is also following an 'open door' policy with regard to visitors to the North and this is also helping in showcasing to the world Sri Lanka's achievements in the normalization sphere. As indicated by no less a person than Defence and Urban Development Ministry Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka has almost completed the process of resettling its IDPs, besides making much headway in reconstructing the war-ravaged areas of the country.

The steady stream of particularly foreign dignitaries to the North is apparently taking away very positive impressions of this country to the world outside and this hopeful trend in world opinion needs to be attributed to the state's liberal policy with regard to the mobility of visitors in the province. Rather than being cagey about developments in the North, the state is permitting visitors to the region and making them see for themselves what is being achieved by way of normalization and this is helping in projecting a favourable impression of the country to the international community.

As we see it, our needs in this context of advancing normalization, are two-fold. On the one hand resettlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction must proceed at an even pace, along with the steady implementation of the LLRC recommendations. On the other, Sri Lanka's interactions with the world outside must continue unabated. In fact, the two processes need to run parallel to each other.

While we must proceed steadily on the road of normalization, it would be advisable to keep the world updated on what is 'happening on the ground' because the international community needs to know that the state is not merely paying lip service to national rejuvenation in these post-conflict times. We would not be wrong in making the point that ignorance on the part of some Western quarters on Sri Lanka's normalization effort played a role in the anti-Sri Lanka resolution coming up in March at the UNHRC sessions.

While it goes without saying that it is the national interest that is primarily driving the state's normalization effort, we should also consider that the world outside needs the evidence of its eyes that this country is making notable progress towards putting things right in these post-conflict times. This should be a prime consideration in allowing complete mobility of persons in the North.

Besides highlighting to the international community our achievements in normalization, the state's 'open door' policy with regard to travel in the North-East must be also guided by the consideration that economic links with the world need to be stepped-up and sustained. Trade and investment are urgently needed by this country and one of the chief means of achieving these is by interacting closely with the international investment community. The latter must travel in the North-East and assess for itself our potential for full-blown economic linkages.

Thus, Sri Lanka must be of the position that it has nothing to hide from the world outside. This policy would prove pivotal in not only putting the record straight as regards this country's achievements but in winning more and more international allies. Besides our overseas missions and other state agencies, it is these allies who would impress on the international community that Sri Lanka is very much a country on the mend which must be continuously supported.

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