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EU Parliament can help in rebuilding efforts Deputy Speaker

A cross party delegation from Sri Lanka led by Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody and comprising Economic Development Deputy Minister Muthu Sivalingam representing the CWC, MP Sudath Neranjan Wickremasinghe representing the SLFP, MP Eran Wickramaratne of the UNP and JVP MP Sunil Handunneththi visited the European Parliament in Brussels at an invitation by the Delegation for Relations with the Countries of South Asia (DSAS) of the European Parliament.


Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody, Economic Development Deputy Minister Muthu Sivalingam and MPs Sudath Neranjan Wickremasinghe, Eran Wickramaratne and Sunil Handunneththi with officials during a visit to the European Parliament in Brussels

During their five-day official visit from May 27-31, the delegation also held a wide range of discussions with the elected members of the European Parliament and officials of other key EU institutions.

The Head of Mission to the European Union, Ambassador P.M. Amza, officials of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Brussels and Deputy Secretary General of Parliament Neil Iddawala were associated with the delegation during the meetings.

The Deputy Speaker and his delegation attended the South Asia Delegation meeting of the EU Parliament that was dedicated to engage with the visiting Sri Lankan Parliamentary Group on May 29.

Addressing the elected members of the South Asia Delegation of the European Parliament, officials and diplomatic representatives of the South Asian countries, the Deputy Speaker said their visit is taking place as an exchange to the two previous visits undertaken by the South Asia delegation to Sri Lanka in 2011 and 2012 and also as a part of the ongoing dialogue between the two law-making bodies, as well as between Sri Lanka and the European Union.

He explained in detail the post-conflict developments in Sri Lanka during the last four years, which has shown remarkable strides in resettlement of over 290,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), demining, reconstructing the war torn North and East as well as in rehabilitating the former combatants and in implementation of the language policy.

He thanked the European Union for the humanitarian and development assistance to Sri Lanka.

The members of the Sri Lanka delegation also added their views and engaged in an open dialogue on a variety of issues of mutual interest and concern.

The Deputy Speaker, while thanking Jean Lambert, MEP, the Chair of the South Asia Delegation for their invitation to the Sri Lankan Parliament to visit the EU Parliament said, Sri Lanka in principle welcomes the proposed visit to Sri Lanka by a similar cross-party delegation from the South Asia delegation of the European Parliament this year.

The Sri Lanka Parliamentary delegation on May 28 had a fruitful discussion on a wide range of issues with 'Friends of Sri Lanka Group in the EU Parliament' hosted by Geoffrey Van Orden, MEP, the Chair of the Group.

The delegation shared their views on recent developments in the country on human rights, rule of law, and governance. The Chair of the Friends Group said it is their wish that the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be a success and that it would help in projecting the country in correct perspective.

The delegation also had bilateral meetings with Oldrich Viasak, MEP and Vice President of the European Parliament, Elmar Brock, MEP, the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET) of the EU Parliament, and also with Mr. Robert Sturdy, MEP and the Vice Chair of the International Trade Committee (INTA) & the President of the EU-Sri Lanka Business Council. The Sri Lanka Parliamentary delegation on May 27 had a cordial meeting with Miichele Coninsx, the President of the EUROJUST, an institution based in The Hague.

It comprises legal experts including prosecutors, magistrates, police officers from the national legal authorities of each of the 27 EU Countries, and is extending judicial cooperation among the Member States in combating trans-border crimes including countering terrorism.

During their visit to Luxembourg on May 30, the delegation learnt about the work of the judicial arm of the European Union- the European Court of Justice (ECJ), and its contribution in redressing legal disputes and grievances arising out of the decisions of the European Union and its legislations. They paid a courtesy call on Koen Lenaerts, Vice-President and the Deputy Chief Justice of the ECJ. They also had an engagement with the European Investment Bank officials discussing matters of mutual interest in the field of investment and finances. On the last day of their official visit on May 31, the Deputy Speaker and his delegation visited the Federal Parliament of the Kingdom of Belgium and was warmly received by Andre Flahaut, the President of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, of the Federal Parliament.

This year marks the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Belgium.

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