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“Canada encourages an inclusive process in Sri Lanka”, Foreign Minister Dion

Posted on 29 July 2016 by TSL

2016 - FM Stephane Dion with Sri Lanka FM Mangala Samaraweera

2016 – FM Stephane Dion with Sri Lanka FM Mangala Samaraweera

Canada's Foreign Minister Stephane Dion's visit to Sri Lanka is the second in 13 years and there is a common denominator. Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranilw Wickremasinghe welcomed former Foreign Minister Bill Graham in 2003 and recently welcomed the current Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion. Sri Lanka's president in 2003 was Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. Current president of Sri Lanka is Maithripala Sirisena. 

The following report has been received from Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Canada says delays in implementing reforms, economic stability, and good governance are not in the public interest despite government's positive engagement in implementing the UN Human Rights Council resolution and its mechanisms which was also co-sponsored by Canada. 

Visiting Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion urged the government to implement what remains of the resolution to be implemented.

He lauded the commitment to establish the Office of Missing Persons, and the release of some lands in militarized zones, but added that "much more remains to be accomplished."
He stressed that the trauma of war remained profound amongst the people with emotions still to heal". "The reconciliation journey will be long and strewn with obstacles, but it is important to focus on the future. The long-term objective must be to respect distinct identities while working to bring them together to strengthen the whole country. In a time where apprehension between people of different cultures is causing havoc, trust must triumph."
He also reminded Sri Lanka of the importance of meaningful international involvement in such accountability and reconciliation mechanisms.
Sri Lanka should take advantage of this momentum to move forward on other reforms, including the strengthening of good governance and economic stability. It is clear that delays in the implementation of these critical reforms are not in the public interest and urged the government to accomplish the remaining part of the process.

He said Canada is pleased to resume a constructive political dialogue at foreign ministerial level. "Canada encourages an inclusive process in Sri Lanka, that welcomes the participation of all of society and advocates peaceful pluralism."
Canada will be sharing its experience on issues such as official languages, the devolution of power, sustainable economic development, and empowerment of women, legal expertise and youth skills development.
He emphasized Canada's interest in meaningful involvement in the promotion of official languages, saying that process was 'critical for advancing the Government of Sri Lanka's reconciliation efforts, and fostering an inclusive society'.
"To this end, Canada is offering its support to the Government of Sri Lanka to advance the delivery of public services in both Sinhalese and Tamil. Canada's official languages journey has not always been a smooth one, but the effort and investment is worth it."
There is a need to focus especially on communities most directly affected by the conflict. Canada is ready to contribute to the re-establishment of livelihood opportunities for those displaced.


Canada will contribute $11.2 million over five years for the National Languages Equality Advancement Project to improve the delivery of government services in both official languages and by increasing awareness and acceptance of the bilingual nature of Sri Lankan society. Canada will contribute another $8.8 million over four years for the establishment of an Entrepreneur Financial Centre in Sri Lanka, a project implemented by Developpmente International Desjardins, in partnership with Sanasa Development Bank.


Canada would like to explore our trading relationship, because this is for the mutual benefit of both of our people. Partnership opportunities are on the horizon in sectors such as aviation, infrastructure, power supply, clean technology and agri-foods.

Canada to fund $8 mn for SME sector

 

Canada will contribute $8.8 million over four years for the establishment of an Entrepreneur Financial Centre in Sri Lanka.

Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Diona said yesterday the project will be implemented by Développement International Desjardins, in partnership with Sanasa Development Bank.

“The Centre will help stimulate private sector development and support job creation by improving livelihoods for entrepreneurs of micro, small, and medium enterprises,” Dion said at a joint press briefing held at the Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday. “Canada would like to explore our trading relationship, because this is for the mutual benefit of both of our people. Partnership opportunities are on the horizon in sectors such as aviation, infrastructure, power supply, clean technology and agri-foods.

“Canada will also be there if unexpected events happen in your country, like the flooding and resulting landslides in May this year. And we are ready to assist Sri Lanka in tackling climate change, not least because of its impact on the frequency and severity of natural disasters”, Dion said.

 

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Canada Foreign Minister meet Sri Lanka’s Government & Opposition Leaders

Posted on 28 July 2016 by TSL

Canada Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion arrived in Sri Lanka 27 July evening on a three-day official visit.  The visit is expected to strengthen bilateral relations between Canada and Sri Lanka. Photo-journalist Nihal Abeynayaka who is Colombo political correspondent for The Times of Sri Lanka has sent us the following report keeping in mind that there is a ten-and-a-half-hour time difference between Toronto and Colombo which is ahead of Toronto.

2016 - FM Stephane Dion with Sri Lanka FM Mangala Samaraweera

2016 – FM Stephane Dion with Sri Lanka FM Mangala Samaraweera

Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion held bilateral discussions with Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera on Thursday afternoon, 28 July 2016, at the Foreign Ministry, following which, both Ministers addressed the media.

Later in the day, Minister Dion called on President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe and Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan on 28 July. He also met the Minister of National Co-existence, Dialogue and Official Languages, Mano Ganesan, on the same day, in connection with support extended by Canada for the National Languages Equality Advancement Project (NLEAP).

 Tomorrow, Friday 29 July, Foreign Minister Dion will travel to Jaffna, where he will meet the Governor of the Northern Province Reginald Cooray, Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran and members of civil society. The Minister will also visit Canadian funded projects including the Jaffna Hospitality Training Centre and an Agro Economic Development Project (ADP) funded by Canada with UNDP and FAO support, relating to agro economic cooperatives in the dairy and agriculture industries.


By: Upali Obeyesekere, Editor with files from Colombo Correspondent Nihal Abeynayaka


Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion said that Canada would provide every possible support to the steps taken by the government led by President Maithripala Sirisena to strengthen democracy, the rule of law, reconciliation and economic development.

President Sirisena briefed him of the steps taken in the past 18 months such as adoption of the 19th Amendment, establishment of the Constitutional Council to appoint members of independent commissions, settlement of the displaced persons and institution of a committee to look into the issues pertaining to missing persons.

Minister Dion, who called on President Sirisena at the official residence in Colombo today (28th July) conveyed the greetings of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The President recalled his several meetings with the Canadian Prime Minister at various international forums, thanks him for the continuous assistance for Sri Lanka’s development activities. He expressed his gratitude to Canada for extending support to Sri Lanka at the international forums.

President Sirisena, explaining the reconciliation process said that it is essential to strengthen the coexistence between the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim people through mutual respect for each others’ cultures. “Culture is stronger than law,” he said and pointed out that proper understanding about each others’ culture would provide a strong foundation for reconciliation.

“You are a man of wisdom, Your Excellency,” Foreign Minister Dion replied and added that Canada would be solidly behind Sri Lanka in this process.

Responding to President Sirisena’s request for development assistance, the Foreign Minister announced that Canada would provide assistance to a new banking system though the Sanasa Development Bank to assist entrepreneurs. Canada will also support solar power projects in Sri Lanka and several other development activities, he said.

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Secretary Chitranganee Wagiswara, Canadian High Commissioner Shelly Whiting and Sri Lanka High Commissioner in Canada, Ahmed A. Jawad were also present.

 

2003 - Canada FM Bill Graham in photo with Sri Lanka PM Ranil Wickremasinghe

2003 – Canada FM Bill Graham in photo with Sri Lanka PM Ranil Wickremasinghe

Minister Dion’s visit to Sri Lanka takes place after 13 years – an extraordinary gesture on the part of the foreign minister who was appointed to this post on November 4, 2015, less than a year since the formation of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Government. It is interesting to note that the last time a Canadian Foreign Minister visited Sri Lanka was on October 15, 2003, when Bill Graham held this post under a Jean Chretien Government. Incidentally, in 2003 the Sri Lanka Government was headed by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga with Ranil Wickremasinghe as Prime Minister. In President Maithripala Sirisena's government today, Mr. Wickremesinghe is the incumbent Prime Minister.

Foreign Minister Dion’s mission is totally different to that of former Foreign Minister Bill Graham who was on a three-day visit to Sri Lanka hoping to revive the island's stalled peace process with the Tamil Tigers.  Minister Dion’s visit is expected to infuse new momentum to relations between the two countries.

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